First Published: 2017-05-18

Tunisia truth commission says state 'not cooperating'
Tunisian tribunal accuses government of not cooperating with its mission to investigate human rights violations oversix decades of dictatorship.
Middle East Online

Picture taken on November 17, 2016, in Tunis shows relatives of abuse victims watching live broadcast of testimonies

TUNIS - A Tunisian tribunal charged with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship in the North African country accused the state on Thursday of not cooperating with its work.

The Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) was set up after the 2011 revolution that toppled the regime of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to investigate human rights violations, hold perpetrators to account and rehabilitate their victims.

But IVD member Khaled Krichi said Thursday that the interior ministry had "rejected all requests for arbitration and conciliation sent to it by victims of human rights violations", including for torture and imprisonment.

"The main difficulty in the commission's work is the state's non-cooperation in matters relating to conciliation," he said at a press conference.

The IVD has broad powers and -- in principle -- full access to public archives.

Its mandate covers cases of torture and arbitrary imprisonment as well as corruption by civil servants and businessmen.

"We really hope for more interaction (from the state) and above all access to the archives related to our work, in particular at the interior and defence ministries," said IVD investigator Oulaa Ben Nejma.

The tribunal has spent more than three years examining decades of abuse under successive dictatorships since independence.

It has a five-year mandate to investigate human rights violations between 1957, when Habib Bourguiba took power, and 2013, when the IVD was set up in the wake of the revolution.

The IVD's criticism came as parliament debates a controversial bill that would allow officials facing prosecution for alleged corruption to be amnestied in exchange for reimbursing embezzled funds.

The bill, defended by President Beji Caid Essebsi, has prompted a backlash from civil society groups who say it would "whitewash the corrupt".

 

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