The Abolition of the Death Penalty in Tunisia, a Fight Against Torture
The OCTT notes with high regret the weakness of the de facto moratorium that has been observed in the country for almost 30 years, while a conservative line in favour of capital punishment gains popularity among the public. The death penalty – the most serious infringement on the right to life, the first of every human right – is now under a moratorium that has been observed in practice since 1991. However, the Tunisian government has not enshrined this into law yet.
The Constitution of Tunisia entitles exemptions to the right to life (albeit sanctified by its own provisions) in “extreme cases”, which could leave the door open to the retention of the death penalty. As such, the moratorium observed in Tunisia does not stop courts from imposing capital sentences, the number of which continues to increase. 47 people were sentenced to death in 2019, while 95 to 110 people are known to be on death row, including 3 women. At the political level, the context has also remained particularly strained ever since the Parliament adopted in July 2015, by a large majority, a reform of the anti-terrorist law, which led to the establishment of new capital offenses. There are now 54 legal dispositions allowing the imposition of the death penalty, but some contravene the “most serious crime” definition as enshrined in international standards. The high frequency of death sentences and the ensuing violations of the right to life have recently resulted in very serious consequences, including the imposition of two death sentences on a single person.
The OCTT also called attention to the great physical, psychological and emotional distress endured by death row inmates in Tunisia, who bear the brunt of the reduction in public spending on prisons, as well the lack of follow-up procedures after being released.
In its section dedicated to the death penalty, the OCTT called for major legislative, health and humanitarian reforms that would allow for the immediate and definitive abolition of the death penalty and the promotion of human rights in the country.