Tunisia’s truth commission carries on despite red tape and lacking funds

28 January 2015 by Julie Schneider, Tunis (Tunisia)

Since opening its doors last month, the Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC) has received scores of people every day. Ready to file complaints, they come from all over the country, passing through the headquarters’ entrance, flanked by “Be welcome!” flags in the Montplaisir business district of Tunis. 

Sihem Bensedrine, president of Tunisia's Truth and Dignity Commission (Flickr/Deutsche Welle/K. Danetzki)
Image caption: 
Sihem Bensedrine, president of Tunisia's Truth and Dignity Commission (Flickr/Deutsche Welle/K. Danetzki)

The TDC is to investigate human rights violations and economics crimes allegedly committed by the Tunisian state between 1955 and 2013.

One complainant sitting in the plastic chairs of the low-ceilinged reception room where all visitors must wait is Mohamed, who did not want to give his real name. He looks tired, explaining how he had to arise in the middle of the night in Kasserine for the five-hour journey to arrive in Tunis at 9 that morning. Asked about the papers he was clutching, he said: “They are not mine. They represent five people who were political victims of the former regime.”

The TDC’s five offices receive, on average, “150 persons every day,” said Hayat, a commission employee who helps usher the complainants. “They mainly come from Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine [key towns in the 2011 Tunisian revolution that led to the ousting of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, widely seen as sparking the Arab spring]. But we don’t listen to their stories, we just classify them.” 

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.