Tunisian Civil Society Blasts Corruption Amnesty Bill

Published May 14th, 2017 - 08:00 GMT
An anti-corruption protest in Tunisia. (AFP/file)
An anti-corruption protest in Tunisia. (AFP/file)

A coalition of Tunisian NGOs on Friday called on Tunisia’s president to withdraw a controversial reconciliation bill from parliament.

“This law is flawed by legal breaches that violate the provisions of the Constitution and international standards in the fight against corruption, guaranteeing impunity and violating the principles of good governance," said the Tunisian Network for Transitional Justice, a coalition of more than 20 civil rights NGOs, at a press conference.

The bill would make around 400 businessmen linked to the regime of ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in the 2011 Tunisian popular revolution, eligible for amnesty for crimes of corruption.

"It is unacceptable to withdraw the powers of the Truth and Dignity Commission once they disagree with their members," said Omar al-Safraoui, a member of the Independent National Coordination for Transitional Justice.

“We hope the president of the republic withdraws this law because we will challenge it [in court] if it is approved by parliament,” he added.

Despite opposition, the president has argued Tunisia’s economic situation requires reconciliation with the businessmen to create projects that would spur a recovery.

On Wednesday, Essebsi said the bill “represents a solution to the current economic impasse and will boost investment."

President Beji Caid “Essebsi’s initiative is a coup against … transitional justice and Tunisia’s Constitution and also a coup against the transitional justice law which dedicates the Truth and Honor Commission with accountable and reconciliation," Sharafuddin al-Qaleel, a lawyer and a member of the Menish Musameh (I will not forgive) campaign, told Anadolu Agency.

The commission is an independent constitutional body established under a 2013 law on the establishment and administration of transitional justice.

The commission oversees the application of the Transitional Justice Act in order to consider alleged human rights abuses between 1955 and 2013.


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