20 January 2012 7:13 pm | | 8


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Moncef Marzouki, Tunisian President

General amnesty was recently granted to thousands of detainees in Tunisian prisons in honor of the first anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution – January 14th, 2012. 122 of those granted amnesty were prisoners sentenced to death, who had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Though the Tunisian human rights activists and associations perceive this decision as a positive step toward the abolition of the death penalty in Tunisia, many have asserted that this action is not enough.

Lutfi Azouz, director of Amnesty International in Tunisia, expressed his belief that this an important step, but that anything short of full abolition is inadequate.

“The death penalty in Tunisia should be abolished. The government maintains the law to use it when they need it. When we met with Moncef Marzouki, he promised that he will not sign any execution order while serving in office, and that he will work toward abolishing the act. We all know that he is a human rights activist,” stated Azouz.

Azouz also explained that since the revolution, Tunisia has been proactive in implementing policies that respect the human rights of its citizens. However, Azouz stressed that no genuine democracy has the death penalty. “We believe that the government’s role is to reform, not to kill in the name of law,” said Azouz.

Anouar Kousri, member of the Human Rights League (LTDH), stated that league has been calling for the elimination of the death penalty since Ben Ali’s regime. “Marzouki was a former president of our association, and what he did was a positive step. We expected this from him. The Constituent Assembly has the power to abolish the death penalty,” Kousri stated.

“We believe that the death penalty is about punishment not reform. Tunisia is a civil, democratic society that believes in the right of life and reform, not punishment,” he added.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Afif says:

    I think the death penalty should be maintained in cases of treason and in cases of the intentional killing of a child under 12, in cases of the intentional killing of an elderly over 65 or older, and in cases where the offender’s acts during the commission of the crime are so heinous that his or her life should not be spared.
    Having said this, the problem is that the judicial system and the criminal justice system in Tunisia are not competetent or independent enough to ascertain the true guilt or innocence of a criminal defendant. Additionally, the administration of the death penalty by hanging is cruel and maybe lethal injection should be used instead.
    I was against the death penalty, but some cases I have read abroad changed my mind and the mind of others were also against the death penalty. The purpose of the death penalty is not to deter future crimes (there is no evidence of that) but rather to punish and to fulfill the community sense of justice.
    In conclusion, I think we should have a morotorium on the death penalty, until a commission is appointed to study this issue in light of our own reality and the experience of not just Europe, but also the U.S. where most States impose still impose the death penalty.

  2. Fakr00n says:

    No death sentence have been committed in Tunsisia since 90-91 (I don’t remember the exact date). Wich is unique in the muslim world ( with the exception of Morocco and possibly Turkey). The death sentence is practically fading in Tunisia. I hope president Marzouki will take the decisive step towards it’s abolition.

  3. Gil says:

    Let me also mention that in totalitarian systems around the world the death penalty is often used to intimidate opposition figures. Rachid Ghannouchi the leader of the Ennahda party for example only escaped the death penalty by a hair’s width some 25 years ago. Since Tunisia does not ever want to revert to a totalitarian system again, I think it would be helpful to use the current momentum to abolish the death penalty once and for all. Just look at the current events in Hungary to see how a liberated and democratized country can easily backslide towards more totalitarianism again. Therefore the danger will always exist and the current momentum should be used to remove as many potential tools of oppression as possible.

  4. Gil says:

    I am personally very much against the death penalty. I think that humans simply do not have the right to decide about another human being’s right to live. Even if the accused has done some horrific things, that still does not mean that we as a community, as a society, as a state should stoop to the same low spiritual level.

    Additionally I have the following observation to make: “Azouz stressed that no genuine democracy has the death penalty”. This comment certainly puts him at odds with a huge percentage of Americans. Generally the USA counts as one of the world’s most established democracies despite deficits with regards to the enormous financial power of lobbies and the whole campaign finance system.

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