TUNIS - Tunisia's parliament on Friday began to examine a "transitional justice" bill designed to compensate victims of the former regimes of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Habib Bourguiba.
TUNIS – Tunisia’s parliament on Friday began to examine a “transitional justice” bill designed to compensate victims of the former regimes of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Habib Bourguiba.
The examination, coming almost three years after Ben Ali was overthrown in a popular uprising, has been repeatedly delayed because of sharp disagreement between the ruling Islamists and opposition parties which accuse each other of trying to exploit the issue for political gain.
“Given the extreme sensitivity of this subject, we decided to proceed slowly in order not to reproduce the injustices (of the past)… This draft law aims to disinfect old wounds,” said parliament speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar.
Kalthoum Badreddine, head of the commission that drafted the bill, said it was designed “to uncover the violations to which Tunisians have been subjected, as well as the corruption and the despotism since 1955.”
“This law will put an end to impunity,” added Badreddine, who is a member of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda.
It envisages the creation of an independent “truth and dignity body” which would be tasked with identifying and compensating victims of abuse under the regimes of Ben Ali and Bourguiba, Tunisia’s founding president.
It also proposes to identify and bring to trial those responsible.
The bill covers “any blatant or methodical aggression perpetrated in violation of human rights by the agencies of the state, or by groups or individuals acting in its name or under its protection.”
The most serious crimes include voluntary homicide, rape, extrajudicial killings and torture, as well as economic crimes such as the misappropriation of public funds and financial corruption.
The transitional justice system should also lead to a reform of the laws and institutions that allowed such violations, and strengthen the rule of law.
Three years after the mass protests that swept Tunisia and touched off the Arab Spring, the government has yet to begin significant reforms of the security forces, the judiciary or the penal code.
Political crisis triggered by the killings, in February and July, of two opposition MPs has complicated the reform process.