In partnership with UN Women, CJA is piloting an initiative to support local Tunisian legal practitioners in the investigation and (eventually) prosecution of crimes against humanity, including systematic or widespread sexual and gender based violence crimes.

Since its revolution, which resulted in the departure of President Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia has embarked on an ambitious and painful experiment, empowering its Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC) to gather testimony and other evidence from victims of six decades of abuses under two dictatorships. More than 60,000 people have lodged complaints in this endeavor designed to expose the violations, make reparations, and hold abusers accountable.

Tunisia’s Transitional Justice Law of 2013 (TJL) aims to address any human rights violations that occurred between July 1955 and December 2013.  And it anticipates prosecution for gross violations of human rights, including but not limited to deliberate killing, rape and any form of sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearance, and summary execution. Evidence developed so far by the Truth and Dignity Commission (TDC) suggests that rape and sexual abuse were used as a systemic and institutionalized form of torture, often but not exclusively directed at women. Sihem Bensedrine, a former journalist and human rights activist who leads the TDC has described as a “paradox” the fact that both dictatorships (of Habib Bourguiba and Zine el Abidine Ben Ali) advanced policies that led the Arab world in women’s rights, while at the same time “there were massive violations against women, especially rape, more than we thought.”

Now is a crucial moment, as the TDC enters the final year of its mandate and begins preparations for the transfer of dossiers to the Public Prosecutor.

You can read more about CJA’s transitional justice initiatives here