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Tunisia: Parliament Passes Anti-Terrorism Law

(Aug. 18, 2015) On August 7, 2015, the Tunisian Parliament passed Law 26 of 2015 on combating terrorism and money laundering. The Law was approved by a large majority: 174 of the 217 members of the Parliament voted in favor of it. The Law replaces a 2003 law on the subject and was passed in response to a number of terrorist attacks against foreigners and law enforcement officials that have taken place over the past few months. (The Tunisian Parliament Passes an Anti-Terrorism Law That Includes the Death Penalty, 4702 AL WASAT (July 23, 2015) (in Arabic).)

The newly enacted Law consists of 140 articles. It enhances punishments against individuals who carry out terrorist activities, who commit hate crimes (Kafir), or who use explosives and unconventional weapons in terrorist attacks. (Law 26 of 2015, 63 AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH (Aug. 7, 2015) (in Arabic).)

The Law also calls for the prosecution of Tunisians who travel abroad to be trained by foreign terrorist organizations. Finally, the Law creates the National Commission to Combat Terrorism. The Commission is responsible for adopting plans and preventive measures to prevent extremist ideologies from flourishing in Tunisian society. It consists of 18 representatives from different government agencies. (Id.)

Reactions to the New Law

One group of activists that has supported the adoption of the Law called its passage historic. They claimed that it is the right tool to face the increasing threat posed to Tunisia by terrorism and terrorist groups domestically and abroad. (Tunisia Seeking to Confront Extremist Threat with New Anti-Terrorism Bill, TELEGRAPH (July 22, 2015).)

Non-government and human rights organizations that operate in Tunisia and abroad opposed the Law’s adoption, however. They voiced their concern that Tunisians might not be treated fairly under the Law’s provisions. International human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, stated that the Law does not meet international human rights standards. Activists and non-government organizations also criticize the fact that the Law allows law enforcement authorities to detain suspects for a period of 15 days before bringing them before a judge and that, during that detention period the suspects will have no access to lawyers or any contact with their families. They also decry the Law’s imposition of the death penalty for a wide variety of crimes despite the fact that the Tunisian government has not imposed capital punishment since 1991. (Tunisia: Flaws in Revised Counterterrorism Bill, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (July 7, 2015).)