Country Report on Terrorism 2009 - Chapter 2 - Tunisia

The Government of Tunisia placed a high priority on combating extremism and terrorism. In addition to using security and law enforcement measures, the Tunisian government also used social and economic programs, including health care and public education, to ameliorate the conditions that terrorists exploit for recruitment and propaganda purposes. The government prohibits the formation of religious-based political parties and groups it believes could pose a terrorist threat. Tunisia does not have a rehabilitation or reintegration program. The Tunisian government puts a high priority on controlling the border regions.

On July 30, the Chamber of Advisors amended the 2003 anti-terrorism law to harmonize national legislation with UN resolutions related to terrorism financing and money laundering. The amendments included measures to establish databases on terrorist financial transactions; protect the identities of magistrates, judicial police officers and civil servants involved in terrorism and money laundering cases; freeze funds belonging to people accused of terrorist activities; and extend from two to five days the period allowed for a public prosecutor to issue his judgment on investigations carried out by the Financial Analysis Commission. The new legislation made a clear distinction between terrorism and resistance, with specific reference to the Palestinians.

The Government of Tunisia enforced the 2003 anti-terrorism law. However, the government’s application of the law was criticized by Tunisian and international organizations who maintained that too many individuals undergo extended pre-trial detention and face unfair trials that rely on weak evidence. In response to a claim by Tunisian lawyers that 2000 people had been sentenced under the anti-terrorism law, the Minister of Justice stated on May 27 that 300 persons were being detained on terrorism charges.

On July 2, a private Tunisian lawyer announced in the press that the government was charging two military officers along with seven civilians for plotting to attack U.S. military personnel in country. On July 14, Tunisian media reported that prosecutors dropped the charges against the two officers, citing lack of evidence.

Among the cases in which sentences were publicly announced:

  • On March 26, the court in Grombalia, Nabeul sentenced a man to three years in prison for joining a terrorist movement. He had been previously arrested in December 2006 and released 18 days later.
  • May 14, a woman was sentenced to six years in prison for belonging to a terrorist organization, incitement to join terrorist organizations, funding terrorism, and traveling outside the country without official documents.
  • May 20, a military court sentenced one person to three years in prison on terrorism-related charges.
  • In June, the Tunisian Appeals Court sentenced 22 individuals to three to eight years in prison for belonging to a terrorist organization, obtaining supplies and equipmentfor the organization, and for calling for acts of terrorism. One of the 22 individuals convicted was a non-commissioned military officer.
  • On July 6, 19 individuals suspected of belonging to the Pan-Islamist “Party of Liberation”, were given sentences ranging from 11-14 months in prison for belonging to a foreign terrorist organization.
  • On August 2, a Tunisian was forcibly repatriated from Italy to Tunisia after completing a six year sentence for belonging to a terrorist organization. He was arrested upon his arrival in Tunisia and then released on bail August 10. The police informed him that he could not leave his house or receive visitors without their permission.
  • On October 1, the Tunis court sentenced six individuals to one year in prison for holding an unauthorized meeting, and one person to ten years for belonging to a terrorist organization and inciting terrorist acts.
  • On October 17, nine men were given sentences ranging from three to six years in prison on terrorist related charges.