[JURIST] Tunisia has failed to bring to justice those responsible for the use of excessive force by police during the uprising four years ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text] Monday. The 52-page report, “Flawed Accountability: Shortcomings of Tunisia’s Trials for Killings during the Uprising,” states that legal and investigative problems disrupted Tunisian efforts to ensure accountability for unlawful killings and victims were not delivered justice. Former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was sentenced to life in prison, but many of the accused received lenient sentences or acquittals following lengthy processes before military courts. HRW noted major shortcomings and flaws in the process [press release]. “Tunisia’s parliament should amend the penal code to include a provision on command responsibility and to curtail the jurisdiction of military courts to exclude all cases in which either the defendant or victim was a civilian,” HRW stated.
Tunisia has had a history of human rights violations that was thought to have been reformed with the passing of a new constitution [JURIST report] in January 2014 that offered more expansive freedoms of speech, conscience and religion. The new constitution even compelled HRW to ask [JURIST report] for further action in the release of prisoners convicted under human rights violations in February of that year. However, the practices that HRW now denounces remained in place after the passing of the constitution, and were seen this past November when the son-in-law of Ben Ali, was convicted [JURIST report] in absentia for gun possession charges.