Monday, November 22, 2021

Tunisia, civilians at court-martial

He was jailed in July for a 2018 charge of defaming the army in a Facebook post and sentenced to two months in prison. Habib Bourguiba, leader after independence from French rule, established a military justice code that gave military courts the right to try civilians for crimes that included insulting the flag or the army. Efforts to reform the military justice code since the 2011 revolution have stalled.

So reports DevDiscourse, Nov. 21, 2021.

“Military courts are still under the undue control of the executive branch, as the president of the republic has exclusive control over the appointment of judges and prosecutors in these courts,” read a recent Amnesty report.

[C]ritics say the army has become a political tool since July, noting that troops secured parliament when the government was dismissed, drawing comparisons with Egypt's military coup in 2013. Tunisia's army enjoys a high level of popularity and has traditionally played an apolitical role in the nation's affairs. The president ordered the army to take charge of the nation's COVID-19 vaccination campaign, using their “image of strength and efficiency” to bolster his standing, political analyst Sharan Grewal said.

Brooking has this from 2019,

Tunisia’s newly-elected parliamentarians take their seats, a number of democratic reforms await their attention. Amnesty International has already highlighted five key areas, including the state of emergency, security force abuses, transitional justice, the constitutional court, and the death penalty. To this list we would humbly add a sixth: reforming, if not abolishing, the military courts.

Tunisia’s military courts continue to operate under the 1957 Code of Military Justice, which permits military trials of civilians for insulting the military or undermining its morale, in addition to national security related crimes such as treason and espionage. While the 2014 constitution stipulates that the military courts are only “competent to deal with military crimes,” a transitional article permits military trials of civilians until the code is amended in line with the constitution. Tunisia should move swiftly to do so to end such trials.

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