WATCH LIVE: Side-Event on The Fight Against Impunity in Tunisia, Today, March 10 at 1:30 PM Geneva (8:30 AM EST)
The Special Rapporteur’s follow-up report on the mission to Tunisia is now available here in English and French
SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR AND ATI ASSESS ADOPTION OF 2011 RECOMMENDATIONS IN FOLLOW-UP VISIT TO TUNISIA THIS WEEK: 4 – 6 JUNE 2014
Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez and the ATI kicked off their follow-up visit to Tunisia on June 4. The visit, which ended on June 6, followed-up on the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to fight torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment issued after his first visit to the country in 2011. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur met with high-level government officials and hosted a civil society roundtable to discuss and assess the recommendations’ implementation in general and focus on three main challenges for the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment in particular: access to justice, rehabilitation and reparations, and the conditions of detention in Tunisian prisons and other places of detention.
At the start of the visit, the Special Rapporteur stated that he hopes his second visit to Tunisia will “assist the Government in coping with some of the remaining challenges it faces regarding the fight against torture and in finding solutions that ensure the promotion of human rights and dignity of all persons.” He added that he looked forward to helping Tunisian authorities “to further implement my recommendations, uphold the rule of law, promote accountability for present and past abuses and allegations of torture and ill-treatment, fulfill the right to reparations for victims, and to ensure that alleged perpetrators are held responsible in conformity with international law.” You can read the UN OHCHR press statement announcing the visit here.
- Read the Special Rapporteur’s 2012 report on Tunisia in English here
- Read the Special Rapporteur’s 2012 report on Tunisia in French here
- Watch the Special Rapporteur’s May 2014 video address delivered on the occasion of Tunisia’s first National Day Against Torture here
ABOUT THE VISIT: DAILY ACTIVITIES
DAY 1: Tunis: On the first day of the follow-up visit, the Special Rapporteur and the ATI team held meetings with Minister of Interior Lotfi Ben Jeddou and the Director-General of Prison Administration under the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Interior is in charge of garde à vue, or pre-charge, detention centers in Tunisia, and the Ministry of Justice is in the charge of the State’s prisons and pretrial detention centers. The team also visited a prison in Tunis.
DAY 2: Tunis: The Special Rapporteur and the ATI team had a productive second day of meetings in Tunis, meeting high-level government officials including the Minister of Justice, the Speaker of the National Constituent Assembly, and the Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Rights and Liberties. Later in the day, they also met with members of Tunisia’s Bar Association and with civil society partners from the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and Action by Christians Against Torture (ACAT) in anticipation of Friday’s civil society roundtable.
DAY 3: Tunis: The Special Rapporteur and ATI concluded the follow-up visit to Tunisia on June 6 with a civil society roundtable event and a press conference in Tunis. The roundtable event, which was attended by more than 50 members of local and international civil society, offered a critical space for civil society to evaluate Tunisia’s progress in implementing the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations, the main challenges and strategies for preventing and combating torture and ill-treatment, and to discuss the human rights situation on the ground more broadly. The roundtable was organized by the ATI along with the OHCHR in Tunis, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), and Actions by Christians against Torture (ACAT).
At the end of the visit, the Special Rapporteur shared his preliminary comments and recommendations at a press conference at the Hotel Africa in Tunis. The Special Rapporteur welcomed the fact that the spirit of reform and human rights brought by the 2011 Revolution, “is still alive and strong” in Tunisia, but warned that torture and ill-treatment continue to occur in Tunisia, and that “having a strong political will and ordering torture not to be committed is not enough to end the cycle of impunity and eradicate torture and ill treatment,” echoing concerns he expressed in his 2011 visit report. The Special Rapporteur stressed that Tunisia needs to implement further institutional, legal, and cultural reforms with the aim of strengthening safeguards and prevention, and regaining the trust of its citizens in the judicial and security apparatus. He also expressed particular concern about the extremely low number of convictions for human rights violations and a lack of severe penalties in torture cases, and called for prompt, independent, and impartial investigations and prosecutions of all allegations. You can read the Special Rapporteur’s preliminary observations in full in the press release, available here in English and in French.
The Special Rapporteur will present a follow-up report to the Human Rights Council in March 2015.
TUNISIAN NATIONAL DAY AGAINST TORTURE
May 8, 2014: The Special Rapporteur delivered a video address during a ceremony hosted by Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki in Tunis, during which the president declared May 8 as the National Day Against Torture. During the ceremony, President Marzouki highlighted the State’s commitment to combating torture and ill-treatment and to fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for past abuses, and apologized to victims and their families on behalf of the Tunisian state. In his statement, the Special Rapporteur outlined Tunisia’s obligations with regards to combating and preventing torture and ill-treatment, and recognized some important progress made by Tunisia since his official visit three years, such as the establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism under the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, pursuant to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations. The Special Rapporteur’s VIDEO address is available here. You can also read a French language news article about the event here.
ATI PREPARATORY CONSULTATIVE VISIT
From 9 to 15 January 2013 the ATI conducted a preparatory consultative visit to Tunisia in conjunction wtih the OHCHR to lay the groundwork for the Special Rapporteur’s upcoming follow-up visit. The Special Rapporteur intends to conduct a visit to Tunisia with the ATI team sometime in 2014, in order to further assist the Government with the implementation of his recommendations.
MAY 2011 MISSION TO TUNISIA
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez conducted a mission to Tunisia from 15 to 22 May 2011 at the invitation of the Tunisian transitional Government, traveling to Tunis, Bizerte and Kasserine.
The OHCHR prepared a press release in advance of the Special Rapporteur’s visit outlining the purpose of the visit, which was the first UN mission to Tunisia under the transitional Government. The Special Rapporteur’s visit investigated the abuses committed during the Ben Ali regime and the abuses committed during and after the revolution as well as identified measures to be implemented to prevent torture and ill-treatment in the future. During his visit, the Special Rapporteur held meetings with representatives of the provisional Government, the fact-finding Commission, the Council on constitutional reform, the judiciary, legislature, media, a broad range of civil society organizations, lawyers, and victims and their families.
The Special Rapporteur shared his preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference at the Hotel Belvedere in Tunis on 21 May 2011. The statement of preliminary findings is available here in English and French.
- Read the SRT’s report on his visit to Tunisia (in English)
- Watch the SRT deliver his findings on Tunisia before the 19th Session of the Human Rights Council on March 5, 2012
- Read the Press Release after the SRT’s visit
- Read the Press Release updated in July 2013