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Tunisia rejects calls to end civilian trials in military courts

March 29, 2023 at 1:54 pm

Hundreds of Tunisians gather to celebrate their Independence Day by shouting slogans with banners and Tunisian flags in their hands on Habib Bourguiba Street in Tunis, Tunisia [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

Tunisian human rights organisations reported that the authorities have rejected recommendations made by 112 countries relating to freedom of expression, judicial independence and the trial of civilians in military courts. The 112 countries submitted 283 recommendations, primarily concerning freedom of expression, judicial independence, the freedom to form political parties and demonstrate, the right to health, cultural and environmental rights, discrimination against women, discrimination based on sexual orientation and identity, and violence based on skin colour and nationality.

The honorary president of the Tunisian Association for the Defence of Individual Liberties stated that Tunisia accepted 192 of the 283 recommendations and rejected 91 others, all related to human rights.

Rights groups said Tunisia accepted the “vague” recommendations but rejected those that were “more precise”, adding that authorities “follow a policy of procrastination and deception in dealing with these recommendations, which may lead to the absence of a clear policy in dealing with international human rights mechanisms. Civil society has begun working on how to monitor Tunisia’s implementation of the recommendations it has agreed upon.”

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Mehdi Jlassi, the head of the Tunisian Journalists’ Syndicate, said: “In the field of freedom of opinion and expression, 23 recommendations were directed at Tunisia, ten of which were accepted, and three important recommendations related to amending Decree 54, not referring journalists to military courts, and amending Article 86 of the Communications Law, which is considered one of the forms of control over journalists and bloggers, were rejected. This rejection confirms the authority’s desire to use repressive legal provisions to suppress opinions.”

Naila Zoghlami, the president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, said: “Tunisia received 34 recommendations in the field of human rights, accepting 28 and reserving six, including complete gender equality. This does not reassure us about women’s rights in Tunisia, especially as the state does not believe in democracy and equality.”

Authorities in Tunisia postponed responding to 12 recommendations concerning the trial of civilians before military courts, but accepted 17 related to supporting judicial independence, establishing the Constitutional Court, enacting the protection of judges and supporting legal aid.

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