Since 2014, the Transitional Justice process led by Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission (Instance Vérité et Dignité, IVD) has been anything but steady. After a mandate of nearly five tumultuous years, the IVD completed its task in 2019 with the referral to court of at least 173 cases of serious human rights violations and corruption. It also published a comprehensive report including its findings and recommendations. Today, the report was finally published in the Official Gazette as required by Transitional Justice Law.
The Tunisian TDC will be praised and it will be blamed as it has been the case with previous renewed Truth and Reconciliation Commission worldwide. The high stakes that the TDCT carry within an ongoing unstable political and economic local and regional contexts insure that the established ideals of justice and social and political restoration will be scrutinized according to one’s subjective view of what the post-revolution Tunisia should be like.
Following the publication of an ICTJ report on Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, Impunity Watch has presented the initial findings of a collaborative research project on victim participation in the transitional justice process. Amidst observations, analyses, and recommendations that have been presented by national and international actors in the field, the study represents the “most rigorous effort” thus far to evaluate victims’ perceptions of and roles in the undertaking of transitional justice in Tunisia.
Among the dilemmas Tunisia has been suffering is financial corruption which destroyed economy, burdened the people, widened the gap -under dictatorship- between the Haves and the Have-nots and accelerated the revolt against the mafia and the symbols of corruption in the country. The slogans of the revolution included promoting equitable development, establishing justice to the oppressed and putting the thieves on trial. Five years have passed since the dictator –Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali- fled the country(January 14, 2011), yet the politicians’s viewpoints concerning the corruption dossier are still split: a sharp debate over the economic reconciliation bill, submitted by the President Beji Caied Essebsi (March 20, 2015) and consented by the Council of Ministers (July 14, 2015), took place.
Tunisia’s decision to undertake its own transitional justice process, largely encouraged and supported by the international community, was formalized nearly two years after the departure of long-time president Zine El-Abedine Ben Ali. How the country’s path to reconciliation will be measured in a global context and how its work will impact Tunisians remains very much uncertain. In the meantime, the growing library of precedent cases offers lessons and examples for Tunisia’s truth-seeking body as it works to carry out its mission in the face of political, structural, and strategic challenges.