Tunisia: ‘Human rights need to be at the heart of the transitional justice process’ – UN Special Rapporteur

United Nations expert Pablo de Greiff welcomed the Tunisian government’s efforts to implement transitional justice measures over the last two years, especially in the areas of truth and reparations, but urged the authorities to further their efforts on prosecutions, in the areas of institutional reform of the judiciary and the security sector, including vetting, which are essential to guarantee the non-recurrence of violations.

“I commend the Tunisian government for the efforts to create a legal framework that refers to the four elements of transitional justice, namely, truth, justice, reparations, and guarantees of non-recurrence,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence at the end of his first official mission* to the country.

“However, the transitional justice process in Tunisia continues to face some serious challenges,” Mr. de Greiff added. Among them, the independent expert highlighted “the lack of a comprehensive approach equally implementing all four elements, in a way that avoids fragmenting the process into efforts to redress the violations that affect the victims of particular events or specific periods.”

As a central recommendation the transitional justice expert urged Tunisia to put the concept of human rights unambiguously at the centre of all transitional justice efforts. “Only the fact that human rights were violated is relevant –and sufficient– for triggering redress.”

“Establishing effective measures dealing with past abuses requires deliberately designed mechanisms of institutional coordination,” emphasized Mr. de Greiff. “I therefore propose that an inter-ministerial coordination body be established to face the important challenges that lie ahead, and that guarantee adequate service delivery to victims.”

The Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparations and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence also recommended that “transitional justice efforts in Tunisia should take a gender sensitive approach.”

For Mr. de Greiff, this fact-finding visit came at a critical juncture, not only regarding the country’s efforts to move from a regime marred by repression and corruption to a society based on the rule of law, but also specifically in the midst of a constitutional drafting process and the work towards the adoption of a law on transitional justice.

“As in all transitional justice processes, civil society in this country has played a fundamental role in putting the issue on the agenda, keeping it there, and often at great costs -and sometimes even risks- they have contributed to making transitional justice a much more familiar term than it was just a couple of years ago,” said the rights expert commending the efforts of many civil society organizations in Tunisia.

“Considering the effects that decades of repression usually have on civil society, Tunisian civil society organizations do the country proud and they should be both celebrated and supported,” he stressed.

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur visited Tunis, Sidi Bouzid, Gafsa and Redeyef and met with Government and local officials, representatives of the legislative and judicial branches, law enforcement officials, a broad range of civil society actors and victims of past massive violations, the UN and diplomatic delegations.

The Special Rapporteur will prepare a mission report with his observations and recommendations to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12800&LangID=E


Source: United Nations – Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – Press Release – 19 November 2012