A year of specialized transitional justice chambers: the fight against impunity

31 May, 2019 | Press Releases

31 May 2019

A full year has passed since the beginning of the work of the criminal specialized transitional justice chambers which started with the examination of Kamel Matmati’s case on May 29, 2018 at the Court of First Instance of Gabes.
On this occasion, the organizations of the Coalition for Transitional Justice organize a series of activities in commemoration of this important date in the history of Tunisia as it is important for the revelation of truth, for the memory and for the struggle against impunity.

Until 31 December 2018, and in accordance with the Organic Law 53-2013 on the establishment of transitional justice, the Truth and Dignity Instance transferred 173 cases related to serious human rights violations, electoral fraud and financial crimes.
Nowadays, the 13 specialized chambers have reviewed 38 cases, totaling 108 victims’ hearings covering different categories such as victims of the Islamic movement, leftist movements, trade union and student movements, and events of the revolution, as it was opened the first case of financial corruption on April 11, 2019, but it was postponed for a later date.

In this context, the organizations of the Coalition for Transitional Justice organize the following commemorative actions:

– 28 and 29 May 2019: artistic activities in Gabès including a large mural to commemorate the opening of the first trial on transitional justice that of Kamel Matamati, kidnapped on the place of his work in Gabes on 8 October 1991 and disappeared since that time. His body has never been found.

– June 1, 2019: A Ramadan artistic evening at Habib Bourguiba Avenue – Tunis to claim guarantees of non-repetition and commemorate the memory of victims and pay tribute to them.

While continuing their fight for the success of the transitional justice process in Tunisia, especially after the publication of the final report of the IVD, the organizations of the Coalition for Transitional Justice deplore today many difficulties that the specialized chambers face, thus hindering their normal functioning and threatening the outcome of the cases they deal with. These difficulties are mainly summarized in this:

• A political climate that is hostile and unfavorable to the work of the chambers so that voices of politicians and government officials rise to demand their cancellation and the cessation of an ongoing judicial process.

• A refusal by certain agents of the Ministry of the Interior to execute the orders of the courts relating to summonses issued by the presidents of the specialized chambers.

• Increasing and public threats by police unions to no longer guarantee security in trial rooms and appealing to defendants not to respond to summonses issued by specialized chambers.

• A lack of political will to complete the training and career development programs for judges of specialized chambers.

Faced with this situation, the organizations of the Coalition for Transitional Justice:

– Reaffirm firmly their belief in the importance of specialized criminal chambers, as a real guarantee of the success of the process of transitional justice and ultimate guarantee of the revelation of the truth and the fight against impunity, so that the perpetrators of serious human rights violations are accountable for their actions, and for victims to obtain justice and reparation.

– Work actively on the promotion and strengthening of specialized chambers, and their institutional protection, in partnership with the Superior Magistrate Council.  This is part of the process of the ongoing struggle for the independence of the judiciary, so that it can constitute an effective remedy for victims, yesterday, today and tomorrow, for the recognition of their right to justice.

– Urge the Tunisian government to assume its responsibilities to ensure the security of the magistrates of the specialized chambers against the growing pressures and threats they face, especially those coming from the police unions.

Similarly, they urge the Ministry of the Interior to respect the law by executing arrest warrants issued by specialized chambers in accordance with Article 142 of the Code of Criminal Procedures.

– Call on the Superior Magistrate Council to work urgently to ensure the stability of the judges of the specialized chambers, and to allow them to benefit from promotions and privileges similar to those of their colleagues from the other judicial centers, to ensure their continuing training. And assist court presidents in establishing jurisdictional policies for the priority of transitional justice trials pursuant to Law No. 17 of 12 June 2014.

Signatory organizations:

– Tunisian League of Human Rights
– Association of Tunisian Magistrates
– Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights
-Al Bawsala
– Lawyers Without Borders
– Organization Against Torture in Tunisia
– Tunisian Women’s Association for Development Research
-No Peace Without Justice
– World Organization Against Torture
-International Alert
– Independent National Coordination for Transitional Justice.
– International Association for Supporting Political Prisoners
– Tunisian Observatory of Detention Places.
– Al Karama Association.
– Association of the families of the martyrs and wounded of the revolution (AWFIYA)
-International Commission of Jurists
-International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ)
– Tunisian Coalition Dignity and Rehabilitation
– Organization of the martyr of freedom Nabil Barakati
– Tunisian Network of Transitional Justice (RTJT)
-Democratic transition and human rights support center(DAAM)

For more please contact:
KhayemChemli: kchemli@asf.be
Tel: 25 294 240