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Watchdog: Torture continues in Tunisian prisons despite authorities' denial

A Tunisian human rights organisation said yesterday that the practice of torture continues in Tunisian prisons after the January 2011 revolution but local authorities insist on denying its existence.

Head of the Tunisian Association against Torture, Radia Al-Nasrawi said in a press conference yesterday in Tunis that "the practice of torture in Tunisia's prisons and detention centres continues after the revolution as a prevailing trend".

Al-Nasrawi's remarks came in response to an earlier statement by the Secretary of State to the Interior Minister in charge of Security Affairs, Rafik Chelli, who denied "the existence of torture inside detention centres", stressing that efforts are made to provide detention conditions that are reasonable and respect human rights.

"What hurts me most," Al-Nasrawi said, "is the Tunisian authorities' insistence on denying that these practices exist which is a serious issue because we cannot eradicate a disease if we do not recognise its existence."

She pointed out that her organisation constantly receives complaints about the existence of torture and issues a monthly report which documents victims' testimonies.

The Tunisian Association against Torture has filed several complaints since the revolution, but many have been met with no response because "judges and prosecutors are not in a hurry to investigate them".

"Few judges showed interest in investigating," Al-Nasrawi added.

The Tunisian Ministry of Interior decided in January to suspend security officer Kamal Mraihi after he confessed during a TV interview to torturing prisoners during interrogation.

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