SUN 30 - 4 - 2017
Feb 14, 2017
The Daily Star
Amnesty accuses Tunisian security forces of abuses
TUNIS: Tunisian security forces are using methods in their war against Islamist militants that are associated with overthrown leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, including torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, Amnesty International said Monday. The human rights group said in a report that such practices threaten the road to democratic reform in a country that was the birthplace of the Arab uprisings against autocracy.
Tunisia says it recognizes that some of what Amnesty has charged exists, but says it only mentions individual cases and there is no systematic abuse or policy of torture by state forces. It has set up a torture commission to stamp out abuses.
Tunisia has been praised as an example of peaceful democratic transition since overthrowing Ben Ali in 2011, with a compromise between secular and Islamist leaders, two free elections and a new constitution. But it has struggled with a rising tide of Islamist militants and the prosecution of Islamist sleeper cells, especially after four deadly attacks in 2015-2016, including on foreign tourists, the country’s economic lifeblood.
Since November 2015 Tunisia has been under the state of emergency that allows authorities to move with more freedom in the face of terrorism suspects.
With Tunisian authorities fearing new attacks, security forces arrested about 2,000 suspects since 2015 in anti-terrorism sweeps, put dozens under house arrest and prevented more than 5,000 from traveling abroad to join militant groups such Daesh (ISIS) in Libya and Syria.
Amnesty’s report detailed cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, house searches without warrants, arbitrarily assigned residence orders and travel restrictions.
But Tunisian Human Rights Minister Mehdi Ben Gharbia told Reuters: “All violations mentioned in the report Amnesty ... are individual violations [and] are being investigated. We cannot accept these kind of violations in the new Tunisia. In Tunisia we will win our battle against terrorism, but also will win [the] battle of human right values and we will continue to reform and change in mentalities,” he added.
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