Corporal Punishment Of Children: Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Index - Tunisia

Tunisia should fully enforce its criminal prohibition of corporal punishment and ensure that complaints are inspected and acted upon as appropriate. The government had planned to host a global conference as the UN Capital of Children without Corporal Punishment in 2020, but this was deferred, apparently due to the Corona virus pandemic.[1]

The Penal Code was revised in 2010 to remove an exemption that the "correction of a child by persons in authority over him is not punishable."[2] Article 319 of the Penal Code now ensures that assault and violence do not have to lead to serious or lasting consequences for the victim in order to justify punishment.[3] The revised law was published along with a statement from the Constitutional Council that the new law makes the provisions in Article 319 applicable to the "correction" of children.[4]

The Code of Child Protection 1995, as amended in 2006, protects children from "usual ill-treatment," defined in article 24 as "subjection of the child to torture, repeated violations of his physical integrity, or his detention, or the habit of depriving him of food, or committing any brutal act which is likely to affect the emotional or psychological well-being of the child."

Policies such as Ministerial Circular No. 101 (1997) prohibit all forms of corporal punishment. According to one historian, corporal punishment of children was first banned in Tunisia in 1886.[5]

Violent discipline of children appears widespread, but few cases of corporal punishment by school staff are reported. UNICEF found that 93.2 percent of children in Tunisia suffered violent discipline at home from 2005-2012.[6] But only 0.2 percent of students in colleges and lycées (upper secondary schools) complained of violent discipline by school staff in 2011-2012, when there were 469,368 students and 1,250 complaints.[7] A 2018 survey of 12,000 households found 88 percent of children ages 1 to 14 had been subjected to violent discipline, 23 percent had suffered "severe physical punishment" and 49 percent experienced other degrees of physical violence, and that 21 percent of parents in Tunisia believed corporal punishment is a necessary educational practice.[8] Cases of severe abuses are reported by news media.[9]


[2] Law No. 2010-40 of 26 July 2010.

[3] "Sont passibles de memesmêmes paines peines [15 days in prison and a fine] ... ceux qui se livrent aà des voies de fait ou aà des violences n'entraîinant pour la santée d'autrui aucune consequenceconséquence serieusesérieuse ou durable"

[4] Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, "Tunisia" (last updated August 2017), (accessed July 22, 2019).


[6] UNICEF, Tunisia country statistics,

[7] There were 624 complaints of verbal and 97 complaints of physical aggression by teachers at colleges, and 497 and 32 complaints at lyceeslycées. P. 58,

[8] UNICEF Tunisie, "The results of the MICS on the situation of mothers and children in Tunisia," October 3, 2019 (uploaded), ; Rim Hana, "Tunisia: approximately 21 percent of parents consider corporal punishment to be a necessary educational practice," Tunisie Numéerique, December 16, 2019,

[9] In February 2019 the Interior Ministry reported that 42 children ages 10-18 at a Quranic boarding school in Regueb had been subjected to sexual abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and arrested the school director. Interior Ministry website, statement published February 3, 2019,; Ghaya Ben Mbarak, "Despite Legal Reforms, Child Abuse is Widespread in Tunisia," Meshkal, December 14, 2019,