Tunisia: organisations warn of systematic torture in prisons and detention centres

Tunisian and international organisations warned, on Wednesday, of the ongoing phenomenon of torture in prisons and detention centres in the country, calling on the Tunisian government to take the necessary measures to reduce such an event.

This came during a press conference held in the capital Tunis by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the Tunisian Human Rights League, the Association of Tunisian Judges, the Tunisian Organisation against Torture, as well as all local independent organisations.

In a press statement on the sidelines of the conference, the president of the Tunisian Human Rights League, Jamal Musallam, called the authorities for “a serious stand against the humiliating and inhumane practices that prisoners and detainees are subjected to.”

He continued: “We receive several files of use of torture cases in detention centres, prisons, and reform schools, to punish prisoners, and this must be limited.”

For his part, Ossama Bouajila, a member of the OMCT, equally said in press statements: “Today we are facing repressive and abusive practices, making the use of torture in prisons and detention centres a rampant phenomenon that targets especially young people between the ages of 18 and 35.”

President of the Tunisian Judges Association, Rawda Al-Qarafi, pointed out that “the role of the judiciary is fundamental in addressing the heinous and horrible torture crimes that threaten the state of law and democracy, as well as the rights of societies and individuals.”

She continued: “Torture had been systematic at the time of tyranny, and had targeted all political figures and activists of democratic change because it had not been allowed to carry out its role.”

“However, after the revolution (2011), there is no political will to strengthen the role of the judiciary in combating the torture phenomenon, whether by enacting appropriate laws or by providing logistic support and training for judges in this jurisdiction,” Al-Qarafi added.

She considered in press statements that “all Tunisians are threatened with ill-treatment, torture, and suspicious death in prisons and detention centres.”

According to official figures, there are about 22 thousand prisoners in Tunisia. While there is no official number of cases of torture in the country, anti-torture civil society organisations have monitored hundreds of torture cases in prisons and detention centres in recent years.

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