Amnesty Accuses Tunisia Security Forces of Abuses

Amnesty Accuses Tunisia Security Forces of AbusesAmnesty Accuses Tunisia Security Forces of Abuses

Tunisian security forces are using methods in their war against militants that are associated with overthrown leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, Amnesty International said on Monday.

The human right group said in a report that such practices are threatening the road to democratic reform in a country that was the birthplace of the Arab uprisings against autocracy, Reuters reported. Tunisia says it recognizes that some of what Amnesty has charged exists, but only in individual cases and that there is no systematic abuse or policy of torture by state forces.

Tunisia has been praised as an example of peaceful democratic transition since overthrowing Ben Ali in 2011, with a compromise between different groups’ leaders, two free elections and a new constitution. But it has struggled to cope with a rising tide of militants and the prosecution of sleeper cells, especially after four deadly attacks in 2015-16, including on foreign tourists, the country's economic lifeblood. Since November 2015, Tunisia has been under the state of emergency that allows authorities to move with more freedom in the face of terror suspects.

With Tunisian authorities fearing new attacks, security forces arrested about 2,000 suspects since 2015 in anti-terrorism sweeps, put dozens under house arrest and prevented more than 5,000 from traveling abroad to join militant groups such as the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Libya and Syria.

Amnesty's report detailed cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, house searches without warrants, arbitrarily assigned residence orders and travel restrictions.

But Tunisian Human Rights Minister Mehdi Ben Gharbia told Reuters, “All violations mentioned in the report Amnesty ... are individual violations (and) are being investigated. We cannot accept these kind of violations in the new Tunisia.”

A Truth and Dignity Commission intended to help cement Tunisia's young democracy has begun investigating police abuses and cases of torture and arbitrary arrests during decades of authoritarian rule before the 2011 revolt.

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