Tunisia: a crucial period for transitional justice

TunisiaNewsTransitional justice

Tunis, 13 March 2018 – Established in 2013 to steer the transitional justice process in Tunisia, the Truth and Dignity Commission (Instance Vérité et Dignité, IVD) has begun the final year of its mandate. The first trials relating to human rights violations committed during the dictatorship will begin soon in special courts. At this crucial time, ASF co-organised a national conference last week: “The role of civil society and of the state in achieving the objectives of transitional justice post-IVD.” With this conference, ASF and its partners set out to take stock of progress in the work of transitional justice, identify the priorities for the coming months, and clarify the role of civil society and of the state in the wake of the IVD’s work. There was, sadly, a very limited attendance by state representatives at the meeting. During the inaugural session, eminent speakers raised various issues of a highly political nature. Among these was the announcement, on 27 February last year, of the IVD’s decision to extend its mandate by a year. “Samir Dilou, a current member of parliament and a former Minister of Human Rights and Transitional Justice, expressed his views on the subject during the conference,” explains Antonio Manganella, ASF Country Director in Tunisia: “He reminded those in attendance that the organic law governing transitional justice is very clear on the subject. The IVD is autonomous and thus is not required to submit a request for authorisation to the parliament to extend its mandate.” The Chief Justice of the Court of Cassation and the President of the Tunisian Bar Association insisted, respectively, on the need to reform the legal system in order to sustainably guarantee the independence of the judiciary, and on the importance of the role played by lawyers. Three workshops followed, addressing the main areas of transitional justice: legal activities and the establishment of the truth, reparations for victims and the establishment of the Fonds de la Dignité (fund for dignity) and of guarantees of non-repetition, and proposals for reforms for the IVD to propose in its final report. Prepared in collaboration with the Commissioners of the IVD, these workshops enabled the participants to take part in constructive discussions on the progress of the work of the IVD and on the main issues in the field of transitional justice. They resulted in a series of recommendations and conclusions, which will be monitored by civil society actors. “This conference was held at a crucial moment in the transitional justice process,” explains ASF Project Coordinator Amine Thabet. The special courts are due to begin their hearings within the next few weeks: the first case involving serious human rights violations that occurred during the dictatorship has just been submitted by the IVD to the Gabès court of first instance. “ASF will monitor the trials in order to assess their conduct in terms of guarantees for victims and respect for the principles of a fair trial.” >> Further reading: the ASF report on the beginning of transitional justice legal proceedings in Tunisia.
The conference on “The role of civil society and of the state in achieving the objectives of transitional justice post-IVD” was organised by ASF, the IVD, and the member organisations of the Comité de suivi pour la justice transitionnelle (transitional justice monitoring committee): the Association de Défense des Libertés Individuelles (association for the defence of individual freedoms), Al-Bawsala, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, the World Organisation against Torture, the Alkarama Foundation, the Réseau Tunisien pour la Justice Transitionnelle (Tunisian transitional justice network), and Labo’ Démocratique (the Democratic Lab).
Pictures © IVD