Tunisian truth commission opens despite internal turmoil

17 December 2014 by Julie Schneider, Tunis (Tunisia)

Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission (TCD) began its work on Monday, opening two weeks later than originally planned. The commission will have a maximum of five years to undertake the painstaking research work needed to document economic abuses and human rights violations allegedly committed by the state from July 1955 through December 2013 [IJT-163]. Plaintiffs are expected to lodge complaints up until 14 December 2015, in the form of written and in-person testimonies, and the TCD will be able to access government archives.

Known in French as the Instance Vérité et Dignité (IVD), the commission is widely regarded as a key achievement of Tunisia’s transition following the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. But since launching in June, it has met one obstacle after another. Three of its 15 members have already resigned, with two still unreplaced. 

Last to leave was human rights activist Noura Borsali. Publicizing her departure in a post on her Facebook page on 10 November, she denounced the “exploitation” of transitional justice, which, she wrote, “to be successful must be free of political allegiances”. Echoing many NGOs in Tunisia, Borsali called for a revision of the law passed a year ago to create the commission.

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