Tunisian Transitional Justice: Over 62,000 Petitions Await Truth, Dignity Commission

The body was launched in 2014 to handle cases of gross human rights violations by the State since independence.

Expectations are high in Tunisia following the opening on May 29, 2018 of the first case filed by the country’s Truth and Dignity Commission, TDC. The matter, holding in the southern town of Gabès, concerns Kamel Matmati, an Islamic militant who was tortured to death in 1991 under the regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Ben Ali was later chased from power in 2011 following the so-called Arab Spring protests.
Some 14 suspects, including Ben Ali, stand accused of homicide, torture and forced disappearance.

However, none of them was present in court, obliging judges to adjourn the matter to July 10, 2018. Killed soon after being abducted by police, Kamel Matmati was only officially confirmed dead in 2015 – 24 years after. Matmati’s widow, Latifa, told journalists outside the court that she expected the truth to come out and the remains of her husband to be returned to her for burial.

Created on 15 December, 2013 and launched on 9 June 2014, the Truth and Dignity Commission employs a number of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms to investigate gross human rights violations committed by the Tunisian State since independence in 1956. It will provide compensation and rehabilitation to victims of such violations.

Some 14 special courts have been created across the country to hear petitions from victims. More than 62,000 petitions have been filed with TDC, though only 32 have so far been forwarded to the special courts for prosecution.

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