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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                        

Republic of Tunisia

The police force faces long-standing complaints of officers abusing civilians and detainees with impunity, and the police unions have resisted reform efforts aimed at addressing the problem.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Tunisia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Tunisia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tunisia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 9 August 2021]


The National Authority for the Prevention of Torture (INPT), an administratively independent body established in 2013 to respond to allegations of torture and mistreatment, issued its first report in June 2019 detailing reports of torture and mistreatment during the 2016-17 period. According to the report, the majority of the reported abuses took place immediately following individuals’ arrests when the individual was in police custody. The INPT reported that until January, there were a total of 22,445 prisoners and detainees. Of those individuals, the INPT claimed medical records proved 22 were subject to physical violence or attempted rape while in detention centers or while in transit to detention centers.


Pretrial Detention: The length of pretrial detention remained unpredictable and could last from one month to several years, principally due to judicial inefficiency and lack of capacity.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


The police force faces long-standing complaints of officers abusing civilians and detainees with impunity, and the police unions have resisted reform efforts aimed at addressing the problem. Reports of the use of excessive force and torture by security agents continued in 2019.

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

Middle East Monitor, MEMO, 9 May 2019

[accessed 10 May 2019]

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.

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.”

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.”

Tunisian International organisation: 300 torture cases in Tunisia since 2013 without conviction

Middle East Monitor MEMO, 27 April 2018

[accessed 27 April 2018]

The deputy head of the organisation, Mukhtar Al-Tarifi, asserted in a news conference in Tunis on Thursday that “300 cases of torture have been pending in Tunisia since September 2013; however, there have been no convictions that condemn the involved security officers.”

He added that “the commitments taken by the Tunisian State to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes are inconsistent with what happens in many cases of torture, where the government does not provide redress for victims.”

He pointed to “the excessive influence of the security services on the judiciary,” and called “judges to assume their responsibility.”

At the same conference, the deputy head of the organisation presented the case of a Tunisian citizen named Ahmed bin Abda “tortured” by security officers, which caused the loss of his right eye and severe damage to the skull, face and nose in 2013.

Mukhtar Al-Tarifi insisted that although the damage to Ahmed bin Abda was confirmed and he was subjected to medical tests which proved that he was tortured, the defendants were not convicted.

Torture in Tunisia and the return of the conditions for a revolution

Mohammad Hunaid,  Middle East Monitor, 26 April 2016

[accessed 18 August 2016]

In a report that is scheduled for presentation to the UN Committee Against Torture this month, Amnesty International offered an embarrassing description of the post-revolution human rights situation in Tunisia. The organisation also pointed out that the brutal methods of dealing with prisoners and detainees, considered a deeply rooted tradition followed by tyrannical regimes when dealing with the Arab masses, have returned.

The report monitored two main factors. First, the increased physical and moral violations exercised by the security forces against citizens. These violations reach the level of physical torture, rape, threats of rape and resorting to a number of brutal torture methods with detainees, such as beatings, simulated drowning, and other exercises we have seen by the cowboy army in Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq.

Tunisia's torture victims hope for justice at hearings

Eric Reidy, Al Jazeera, Tunis, 27 Jun 2015

[accessed 25 Aug 2015]

[accessed 8 August 2017]

In 1991, 16-year-old Selwa Bejawi was arrested because her brother was a leader in the then-banned Tunisian Islamist movement Ennahda.

Bejawi said she was taken from her high school to the interior ministry in downtown Tunis. Once there, she was forced to take off her headscarf and clothes and walk naked in front of a room full of security officers.

"The least thing we went through was sexual harassment," she told Al Jazeera. "We went through the same torture as men."

"We used to be hung and beaten," she continued, tears welling in her eyes. "The hardest part of prison was the first two weeks, when we went through questioning and torture."

She said the Tunisian government arrested her to try to put pressure on her brother, who was on the run at the time.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


TORTURE AND ILL-TREATMENT - Torture and other ill-treatment reportedly remained common in detention facilities and prisons, despite the NCA’s adoption on October 9, 2013, of a law to create a National Authority for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. A year later, however, the NCA had yet to vote on the appointment of the National Authority’s members.

Following his second visit to Tunisia since the revolution, in June the special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, said that the eradication of torture in Tunisia required both political will and institutional, legal, and cultural reforms to strengthen safeguards against torture and to rebuild citizens’ trust in the judicial and security apparatus.

Slow justice for Tunisia's torture victims

Akim Rezgui for AFP, Tunis, 23 October 2014

[accessed 26 November 2014]

Denguir, 34, who earned a living operating a merry-go-round with his father, was detained last November on suspicion of a drug-related offence.

"They told me that they had taken him in at around 4pm. Before 5pm I got word that my son had been arrested and afterwards someone called to tell me he was dead," his mother Faouzia Zorgui said.

"In the space of 45 minutes, they tore him to pieces," she told AFP as she wiped the white headstone marking her son's grave in Tunis which she visits every week.

The autopsy report concluded that Denguir had been beaten with a "blunt object" but did not establish a cause of death.

Marzouki Offers 'Apologies of State' to Torture Victims

Tunis Afrique Presse, Carthage, 8 May 2014

[accessed 12 May 2014]

Caretaker President Moncef Marzouki offered, on Thursday, the "apologies of the Tunisian State" to the victims of torture over the last 50 years as well as to their families.

Chairing in Carthage a ceremony on National Day against Torture, Marzouki urged civil society to show vigilance so that the State finds no justifications for practices detrimental to human dignity.

"Rest assured that the State will stand up against torture and rehabilitate victims," he stressed. Such atrocities will see no repeat, he added.

"The protection of the physical integrity of citizens and their security are a top priority for the State," he also highlighted.

"Fight against torture is not an occasional undertaking but rather an everyday struggle which calls for adequate societal mechanisms," the Caretaker President pointed out.

Corruption and torture are widespread in all political regimes, he indicated. Laws cannot on their own stamp out torture; a mental changeover is highly needed along with a strong civil society, Marzouki said.

Tunisia: Landmark Opportunity to Combat Torture

Human Rights Watch, Tunis, 14 October 2013

[accessed 14 Oct 2013]

Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly on October 9, 2013, adopted a law to create a National Authority for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Aplenary session of the legislative assembly will elect 16 experts to the new authority from a preselected list. These experts will have the authority to visit any site where people are deprived of their liberty to document torture and ill-treatment, to request criminal and administrative investigations, and to issue recommendations for measures to eradicate torture and ill-treatment.

“The creation of this new body is an unprecedented opportunity to address Tunisia’s legacy of torture and ill-treatment,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. A/54/44, paras. 88-105 (1998)

[accessed 10 March 2013]

4. Subjects of concern

95. The Committee reiterates its views that the definition of torture under Tunisian law is not in conformity with article 1 of the Convention, as the Tunisian Criminal Code, inter alia, uses the term "violence" instead of torture and article 101 of the Criminal Code penalizes the use of violence only when it is used without just cause.

96. The Committee is concerned over the wide gap that exists between law and practice with regard to the protection of human rights. The Committee is particularly disturbed by the reported widespread practice of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment perpetrated by security forces and the police, which, in certain cases, resulted in death in custody. Furthermore, it is concerned over the pressure and intimidation used by officials to prevent the victims from lodging complaints.

97. The Committee is concerned that many of the regulations existing in Tunisia for arrested persons are not adhered to in practice, in particular:

(a) The limitation of pre­trial detention to the 10­day maximum prescribed by law;

(b) The immediate notification of family members;

(c) The requirement of medical examination with regard to allegations of torture;

(d) The carrying out of autopsies in all cases of death in custody.

100. The Committee feels that, by constantly denying these allegations, the authorities are in fact granting those responsible for torture immunity from punishment, thus encouraging the continuation of these abhorrent practices.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

The authorities restricted freedom of expression and prosecuted several people using repressive laws enacted under the previous government. There were new reports of torture and other ill-treatment by police, who also used excessive force against demonstrators.

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - There were reports of torture and other ill-treatment by police. In August the Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice said that, following a public consultation, it planned to establish a new independent national institution to combat torture. The proposed body would be empowered to visit places of detention and help draft new legislation, and would report annually and operate in line with international standards.

Abderraouf Khemmassi died on 8 September in police custody in Tunis, 11 days after his arrest for alleged theft. An autopsy attributed his death to a blow to the head and recorded other injuries. Four police officers were subsequently arrested and charged with causing his death.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 15 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 14 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The Tunisian judiciary lacks independence and regularly issues convictions in politically motivated cases. In 2008, the practice of detaining political activists continued unabated. Credible local and international sources report that detainees are routinely tortured in prison and in police custody.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 14 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, security forces reportedly tortured detainees to elicit confessions and discourage resistance. The forms of torture and other abuse included: electric shock; submersion of the head in water; beatings with hands, sticks, and police batons; suspension, sometimes manacled, from cell doors and rods resulting in loss of consciousness; and cigarette burns. According to AI, police and prison officials used sexual assault and threats of sexual assault against the wives of Islamist prisoners to extract information, to intimidate, and to punish.

Charges of torture in specific cases were difficult to prove because authorities often denied the victims of torture access to medical care until evidence of abuse disappeared. The government maintained that it investigated all complaints of torture and mistreatment filed with the prosecutor's office, and noted that alleged victims sometimes accused police of torture without filing a complaint, which is a prerequisite for an investigation.

According to defense attorneys, local human rights groups, and AI, police routinely refused to register complaints of torture. In addition, judges dismissed complaints without investigation and accepted as evidence confessions extracted through torture. The government may open an administrative investigation of allegations of torture or mistreatment of prisoners without a formal complaint; however, it was unlikely in those cases to make the results public or available to the lawyers of affected prisoners.

Consistent with an effort to extract information or coerce confessions, more reports of torture came from pretrial detention centers than prisons. Human rights activists, citing prisoner accounts, identified facilities at the Ministry of Interior as the most common location for torture. Political prisoners and Islamists allegedly received harsher treatment than criminals.

Several domestic nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia (CNLT) and the Association for the Fight Against Torture in Tunisia (ALTT), reported on multiple torture cases throughout the year. For example, on June 25, according to CNLT, 25-year-old Zied Ghodhbane appeared in court in a state of physical and psychological distress, bearing marks of abuse on his body. He reportedly testified that officials at the Ministry of Interior tortured him by beatings, electrocution, and holding his head under water in detention facilities at the interior ministry after his extradition from Algeria to the country. Defense lawyers for the accused requested that the judge recommend a medical examination, but the judge reportedly ruled that such a request should come from the general prosecutor.

In April authorities sentenced the "Bizerte Group," 11 defendants arrested in 2004 and charged with various terrorism-related crimes, to prison terms ranging from 10 to 30 years. On July 2, the court acquitted five of the defendants, while the remaining six received sentence reductions. The Committee of the Defense of Victims of the Law on Terrorism released multiple communiqués charging that authorities gathered confessions from the group using torture (see section 1.e.).

Authorities did not charge any police or security force official with abuse during the year.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Tunisia ",, [accessed <date>]