Tunisia: Torture of Young Woman in the Name of the Fight Against Terrorism
On 5 January 2015, Alkarama sent a communication to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism regarding the case of Hanene Chaouch, a young volunteer advocating in favour of orphans - held and tortured by the Tunisian authorities under the pretext of the fight against terrorism led by the Tunisian state for the last few years.
The Tunisian security services had recently visited Mrs Chaouch's family home many times, claiming that she was wanted for "failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism." On 29 October 2014, fearing for the safety of her relatives physically threatened, the young woman went to the police station where she was immediately arrested without judicial warrant.
Taken to the detention centre of the Monastir security district for questioning, she was tortured in order to make her confess the charges against her. Hanene was deprived of sleep for 72 hours, violently beaten with fists and feet, electrocuted and threatened with rape. Three days later, she was transferred to the Al Gorjani security centre to be interrogated and tortured again.
At the end of her six days incommunicado detention, during which time she was completely cut off from the outside world, the young woman was brought before the investigative judge of the Tunis Court where, according to her lawyer, the judge did not fail to notice her poor physical condition and visible signs of torture, without ordering an investigation.
The judge, however, decided to release Hanene pending her trial. Subsequently, the victim's lawyers filed a complaint of torture with the prosecutor of the Tunis Court, which, however, remained unanswered.
Furthermore, an offense relating to morals was added to the charges against the victim. Chaouch's lawyer reported that he had already documented several similar cases; this process would be systematic against women accused of terrorism.
Alkarama recalls that Tunisia ratified the Convention against Torture and must respect the obligations enshrined in it. It must, amongst others, open impartial and independent investigations into allegations of torture made by the victims and refrain from using confessions obtained through torture in the context of legal proceedings.
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