Tunisia: Investigations into deadly police abuses must deliver long awaited justice

Tunisia’s authorities must fundamentally reform the country’s security forces to end impunity for police responsible for serious violations, including unlawful killings and torture and other ill-treatment, said Amnesty International in findings published today. 

Tunisia: Where running from police can be deadly highlights four cases of police violations in which victims and their families are still waiting for justice. In two of the cases, use of unnecessary or excessive force by police caused the victims’ deaths. 

“For too long police violence and abuses in Tunisia have gone unpunished. These four cases are emblematic of a wider pattern of impunity within the security forces. It’s time for Tunisia’s government to recognize that shielding perpetrators of police brutality from justice and stalling investigations will only maintain the cycle of abuse,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

 “Tunisia’s authorities must make fundamental reforms to the police and security apparatus to bring them in line with international human rights law and standards. Without independent, impartial investigations into human rights violations by security forces, hundreds of victims of such abuses across Tunisia will continue to be denied justice.” 

For too long police violence and abuses in Tunisia have gone unpunished
Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International

The overwhelming majority of investigations involving members of security forces as suspects do not lead to successful prosecutions of perpetrators. There are also serious questions about independence and impartiality of such investigations.

One of the cases documented is that of 19-year-old Omar Labidi, who drowned on 31 March 2018 after being chased from a football stadium by police who eventually pushed him into a river - ignoring his protests that he could not swim. One year on, no one has been held accountable and judicial authorities appear to be stalling the investigation into his death.

In another case, two brothers, Aly and Youssef Bouzwida, were brutally beaten by police after a basketball game in the southern suburbs of Tunis in May 2018. They are still waiting for an investigation into their assault.

Also highlighted is the case of Ayman Othmani, 19, who was shot dead during a raid by customs officers on a warehouse in Tunis in October 2018.

In the same month another 19-year-old, Iheb, was severely beaten in custody and sustained serious injuries after being arrested as he left a football match.