Tunisia: 20-Year-old Woman Arrested and Tortured for her Facebook Account
On 5 December 2014, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture (SRT) regarding the case of a young woman arrested and tortured by the security services under the pretext of fighting against terrorism.
Arrested by agents of the antiterrorism squad in October, the victim was taken to their office for questioning. Her lawyer reported that, upon arrival, she was forcibly undressed, beaten with fists, feet, and with the help of a stick, and threatened with rape if she did not confess to have been managing two Facebook accounts linked to a terrorist movement, accusations that she categorically denies.
After losing consciousness, she was urgently taken to hospital, where the doctor on duty requested her immediate transfer to a medical centre specialised in traumatology, a request which the antiterrorism squad denied to her. Despite the seriousness of her condition, she was taken back to the police headquarters where she continued to be subjected to torture.
Following her six-day detention, the victim was brought before the investigating judge of the Tunis court. Without failing to observe her condition and the visible signs of torture she suffered, the judge postponed the hearing to the following week, and did not even order a medical examination.
At the insistence of the victim and her lawyers, the deputy prosecutor finally agreed to hear the acts of torture that she had suffered. But although the judge ordered a medical examination, no action was taken. In addition, the prison doctor refused to admit that she had been tortured.
During her preventive detention, new proceedings were opened against the young woman. With the investigating judge's permission, she was then brought back to the antiterrorism squad's premises to be questioned. There, she was threatened and brutalised again in order to force her to confess new charges against her.
Today, her family is particularly concerned that their daughter be brought, once again, to the antiterrorism squad and that she be further tortured.
Despite ongoing criminal proceedings against them, detained defendants in Tunisia are always at risk of torture outside prison, with the approval of a judge who removes them from the protection of the law, allowing police forces to continue the questioning within their premises.
In view of this information, Alkarama submitted the young woman's case to the Special Rapporteur Against Torture (SRT) calling him to intervene as a matter of urgency within the Tunisian authorities to remind them of their obligations deriving from the ratification of the Convention against Torture in June 1993, including the prohibition to transfer detainees from prisons to police stations where they can be interrogated outside the protection of the law.
Alkarama also recalls that the Tunisian authorities have the obligation to open impartial and independent investigations into the allegations of torture made by the victims, and that they must refrain from using confessions obtained through torture in the context of legal proceedings.
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