Saturday, April 24, 2021

Can military courts try civilians?

A Tunisian news outlet, BN Check, has this superficial item about a timely question in that country. The article refers to current provisions of domestic law but makes no reference to applicable human rights jurisprudence, which strongly disfavors the trial of civilians by military courts, or the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which bans it.

1 comment:

  1. For our book - Military Courts, Civil-Military Relations, and the Legal Battle for Democracy: The Politics of Military Justice - my co-author and I examined military justice in 120 countries in the world. We did not discuss Tunisia in text, but in coding it in our dataset we found:

    Tunisia gained independence from France in 1956 and a year later promulgated its first modern code of military justice, influenced heavily by the French code.

    - Décret du 10 janvier 1957 (8 djoumada II 1376)

    The code provides military courts jurisdiction over members of the military for almost all crimes and over civilians for a wide range of crimes, including insulting the army.

    - See this comprehensive Human Rights Watch report here:

    Habib Bourguiba, who ruled the country from 1959-1987, also created a special State Security Court (Cour de Sûreté de l'Etat) to try political opponents. The court was abolished when Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the presidency in 1987.

    - The law to revoke them was Ley 87-79 del 29 de diciembre de 1987

    Despite Tunisia’s transition towards democracy that marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, conditions have not changed. The new constitution defers to domestic law on issues of military justice and the 1957 code still reigns.

    - Articles 110 and 149 of the Constitution, as the article noted


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