Tunisia: Amnesty welcomes government’s commitment to enable Truth Commission’s mandate until the end of its work
Reacting to a joint statement by the Truth and Dignity Commission and the Ministry of Relations with Constitutional Bodies, Civil Society and Human Rights published on 24 May, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director, Heba Morayef, said:
“Amnesty International welcomes the Tunisian government’s commitment to transitional justice by giving the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) the necessary time to bring perpetrators to justice and finalize its work diligently after concerns of cutting the work of the IVD short were raised by a recent vote in the parliament and communications from the Prime Minister this week. We call upon all government institutions to fully cooperate with the IVD until the end of its mandate by the end of 2018 as per its decision.”
During a press conference held today, IVD President, Sihem Ben Sedrine, confirmed that the Commission is continuing its work. This is in line with the government‘s commitment to respecting constitutional provisions by granting enough time for the Commission to finalize the outcomes of its mandated work.
“The government will not be closing down the IVD on 31 May. We will do our best to take the shortest time, we have promised this to the government.” said Sihem Ben Sedrine, IVD President.
After four years of work, the IVD is at the critical stage of referring cases of grave human rights violations to criminal courts. It is also drafting a comprehensive report that examines past violations and provides recommendations for reforms to ensure such violations never happen again.
“By committing to cooperating with the IVD until it finalizes its important work, the Tunisian government is recognising the necessity to uphold IVD’s decision to extend its mandate until the end of the year, and by extension recognising the importance of ensuring accountability for human rights violations,” said Heba Morayef.
Prime Minister Youssef El Chahed wrote to the president of the IVD on 21 May 2018 to inform her that the IVD's decision to extend its mandate cannot be published in the official gazette, and in a second communication on 22 May to instruct that IVD must hand over all of its archives and documents end by 30th of May, in accordance with a parliamentary vote the previous month.
The IVD started referring cases to courts at the end of March 2018 and has thus far referred eight prominent cases to criminal chambers specialising in transitional justice. These include cases of enforced disappearance, death under torture and killings of peaceful protestors during the 2010-2011 uprising.
Since the start of its operations in 2014, the IVD has held hearings across Tunisia and received more than 62,000 reports of human rights violations. Created by the December 2013 Organic Law on Establishing and Organizing Transitional Justice, the Commission's mandate is to uncover the truth about crimes under international law and human rights violations between 1955 and 2013.
The IVD’s mandate also includes arbitrating cases of economic crimes, setting up and administering a programme of individual and collective reparations, formulating recommendations to guarantee the non-repetition of past violations and crimes and reforming state institutions involved in the orchestration of human rights violations, such as the vetting of members of state institutions.
In a letter to the Tunisian authorities on 30 April, the UN special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence, Pablo de Greiff, recommended that the IVD be granted the extension it decided it needed, out of respect for the Commission’s independence.