Tunisia: Hung Naked and Beaten by Law Enforcement Officers
On 1 December, Alkarama sent a communication to the Special Rapporteur on Torture (SRT) regarding the case of Zied Younes, a 25-year-old engineer arrested on 10 September 2014, by the antiterrorism squad. The victim was tortured by security services and prison guards and held in worrying conditions before being judged on the basis of evidence obtained under torture.
Around 1:30 am, Zied Younes was arrested at his family home by a group of agents belonging to the antiterrorism squad, who forced their way into his house. Younes was conducted the Kasserine security services premises, a neighbouring town of the Chaambi mountain, west of Tunisia, where he was subjected to all kinds of abuses, including the so called "roast chicken" position, in order to make him confess the detention of weapons and the planning of terrorist attacks. Later, he was transferred to the Tunisian capital, over 300km away from Kasserine, in the trunk of a car without ventilation.
In Tunis, he was detained at the detention centre of Bouchoucha, before being transferred to the Al Gorjani prison to complete his period of detention, where he was deprived of sleep, food, water and access to sanitation. Subsequently, locked in an overcrowded cell with dozens of other prisoners, Mr. Younes witnessed the collective punishment inflicted by a guard who forced them to kneel before beating them violently for several hours, and electrocuted him several times.
When Alkarama asked Mr. Younes if he wished to make the violations he suffered public, he said: "I want everyone to know, I cannot see what can be worse than to be hung and beaten naked and to suffer all this in the presence of another prisoner, himself subjected to the same treatment, in particular when the abusers are not criminals, but law enforcement officers and investigators from my country."
After four days of suffering and after having noticed the serious injuries caused to another prisoner who refused to sign, Mr. Younes was finally forced to sign the police interrogation report containing a confession, without reading it.
Six days after his arrest, he was finally brought before the magistrate, in front of whom he denied all charges against him, stating that he was forced to sign his confession under torture. The judge, however, did not take into account the prisoner's statement, nor the request presented by his lawyers to open an investigation into the ill-treatment Mr. Younes was subjected to. On the contrary, the judge ordered his detention in the Mornaguia prison, and simply recorded in the hearing report that the defendant claimed that his client had been tortured in police custody.
This case falls within the context of the authorities' fight against terrorism, a pretext used to justify the increasing number of human rights violations by the authorities, to the detriment of those arrested. The Anti-Terrorism Act of 10 December 2003 does not comply with international law, which Tunisia is committed to comply by accessing to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in March 1969 and the Convention against Torture (CAT) in September 1988.
Concerned about the situation of Mr. Younes, which adds up to many other cases - such as that of Karim Rhimi, also arrested by the antiterrorism squad on 19 September 2014 and severely tortured in the same premises of the Kasserine security services – the Alkarama Foundation sent a communication to the Special Rapporteur on torture (SRT), Juan Méndez, to intervene with the Tunisian authorities and call upon them to open an impartial and independent investigation into the allegations made by Mr. Younes and his lawyers, in accordance with their international obligations .
Alkarama, who recently called the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) experts to visit the country, still reminds that Tunisia should take effective measures to prevent such violations, including by bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice to end their impunity.
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