Tunisia: NPWJ and KADEM issue report on accountability and Transitional Justice expectations and perceptions across the Country

25 Jun, 2013 | Press Releases

Tunis, 25 June 2013

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and Al-Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center (KADEM), are working in Tunisia to support the country democratic transition through transitional justice since the revolution that ousted the previous regime of the former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In the framework of this common endeavour, NPWJ and KADEM conducted, in September 2011, a survey whose results are now being published under the form of a report entitled “Accounting for the Past in Tunisia: an Assessment of Accountability and Transitional Justice Expectations and Perceptions across the Country”.

The purpose of this survey was to capture people’s understanding and general knowledge about transitional justice in Tunisia among various sectors of society before major measures on the topic were carried out. The survey was administered in different regions and cities of Tunisia, including El KefGafsaJandoubaKasserineSfaxSidi Bouzid and Tunis, to 403 people representing the general public and specific Target Groups, namely victims, representatives of civil society groups, members of judiciary and legal professionals, the media, policy makers and political parties.

The Survey findings demonstrate that the general perception towards transitional justice is very positive in Tunisia and that a great majority of respondents are eager to participate in transitional justice to contribute directly to the democratic transition of their country. In particular, 95% of respondents were in favour of the establishment of transitional justice recognised as a real need. The vast majority of respondents also considered that institutional reform and accountability were the most urgent needs, followed by the strengthening of the rule of law. This is a very positive point, given that at the time of the Survey only few activities on transitional justice had taken place and it was not even considered as an issue in the public domain.

Respondents from political parties stressed the importance of enhancing civil society’s role in transitional justice and the necessity to involve this group in a constructive manner. This is a positive result in a society, namely in Tunisia where decades of dictatorship have not favoured the recognition of civil society as an important interlocutor of policy- and decision-makers. The results also show a difficulty in reaching out to victims and therefore in identifying the needs of one of the most crucial groups to be involved in the efforts to address past violations. Only 17% of the victims’ respondents who sought support from civil society groups and public authorities were finally able to find it. Nearly the totality of respondents from this group felt unrepresented after the revolution and around half of them did not know which civil society groups they could turn to for the representation of their interests.

The following are the main recommendations and lessons learnt that have emerged as a result of this survey and that are important to measure the impact of the various initiatives carried out so far as well as to identify the main challenges that should be addressed to establish an effective transitional justice system in Tunisia:

  • The Government, the National Constituent Assembly, the future Parliament and in general Tunisian institutions should engage in a deeper way civil society in their work, particularly on those measures that will affect Tunisian future. They should undertake in consultation with relevant stakeholders an extensive reform of the Tunisian legal framework and institutions to ensure accountability and redress for past violations.
  • Tunisian institutions and civil society’s work should be more focused on reaching out to victims, developing strategies and creating stable and representative mechanisms that would facilitate victims participation in all phases of transitional justice, including the shaping of such mechanisms, the unveiling of the truth and reparations programs.
  • Relevant national and international actors should focus on strengthening the capacity of all relevant Tunisian stakeholders on transitional justice, building on the interest about this topic. Particular attention should be dedicated to enhancing capacities of the media and civil society, since they are key actors in reaching out the general public and other relevant groups.
  • The donors community should sustain, and where possible increase, current fundings to support Tunisian democratic transition to overcome the lack of resources that hampers the process of relevant work on transitional justice.
  • The international community should exert stronger pressure on the Tunisian Government to address the lack of political will to provide accountability for past violations, to conduct institutional reform and move forward with effective and comprehensive transitional justice measures.


For further information, please contact Greta Barbone on gbarbone@npwj.org or +216 28385079 or Nicola Giovannini on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32 (0)2 548-39 15.