Tunis, 2 May 2017 – Tunisia is today presenting its human rights record at the Universal Periodic Review initiated by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Avocats Sans Frontières, along with other civil society organisations, has contributed to the event by means of an alternative report. ASF is in particular calling for the withdrawal of the economic and financial reconciliation bill that would enable the legal proceedings against corruption, launched since the departure of the former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali six years ago, to be closed down.
The aim of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is to examine the human rights situation of United Nations Member States every four years. This is the third time that Tunisia has been subject to this review. The process consists of a peer review (by the other States) of the country’s fulfilment of its commitments to respecting and promoting human rights. National and international civil society contributes to this process by writing alternative reports that are taken into account during the examination.
Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) is one of the NGOs that contributed to this report. In conjunction with five of its partners,* it shared a number of concerns regarding the transition to democracy and establishing the rule of law in Tunisia with the United Nations Human Rights Council.
In particular, ASF calls on the Tunisian State to go still further to combat impunity, which should be one of the main priorities following the revolution. The so-called ‘economic reconciliation’ bill that was introduced in 2015 and is again being debated in Parliament today is not an encouraging sign in this regard. If adopted, it would grant amnesty to directors, civil servants and businessmen accused of corruption or misuse of funds. The thousands of legal proceedings launched since 2011 would be abandoned, stripping transitional justice of its substance along with its mechanisms for uncovering the truth, for arbitration, mediation, reparation, institutional reform and for ensuring that the crimes of the past will not be repeated.
In addition to strongly calling for this bill to be withdrawn, ASF and the other organisations that drew up the report have highlighted the need to guarantee the freedoms of opinion, speech, association, assembly and demonstration, to abolish the death penalty and the use of torture, and to guarantee and protect the equality of women and the LGBTI community and prevent discrimination against them.
The result of the UPR is a document that lists recommendations for the State in question to implement, which must then be demonstrated at the next review. All the documents regarding Tunisia’s current and previous examinations are available on the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
* The International Federation of Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture and the Tunisian organisations Doustourna, the Association for the Defence of Individual Freedoms and the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality.
Picture: “There is much left to do…” The civil society organisations are more mobilised than ever in working to guarantee the respect of human rights in Tunisia.