In Tunisia, the president resumes the debate on the death penalty

While the country has observed a moratorium since 1991, Kaïs Saïed voted for the death penalty after the murder of a young woman last week near Tunis. “Anyone who kills a person for no reason deserves the death penalty,” the head of state said Monday night. Several NGOs point out that the death penalty has no preventive effect.

It is a murder that has revived the debate about the death penaltyafter almost three decades of moratorium in Tunisia. Rahma, 29, who disappeared after leaving her job, was found last week near the highway between the capital Tunis and the residential neighborhood of Marsa. Very quickly, a suspect was arrested and claimed to have killed her and stolen her phone, the interior minister said.

“It appears that the killer (alleged, editor’s note) had already killed someone before and had been pardoned,” President Kaïs Saïed commented during a security council meeting Monday night. “We will give him all the conditions for self-defense, but if it is proven that he has killed one or more people, I do not think the solution is (…) not to use the death penalty,” he added.

The murder had unleashed a wave of emotions, especially on social networks. But NGOs like the League for Human Rights have reminded that the death penalty is a violation of rights that has no preventive effect.

Chokri Latif, president of the Tunisian coalition against the death penalty, which brings together a collective of associations, believes for its part that the president of the republic has exceeded his powers. “For me, the intervention of the President of the Republic should not happen in this way. As guarantor of the Constitution, he must first and foremost respect the Tunisian political system based on separation of powers. The executive should not interfere in the realm of the power of justice, he believes. And he must not establish himself as a judge to say that such a person, whose case is under investigation, is a criminal, and pronounces a sentence on him, the death penalty. , we are a republic whose reference is the Constitution. And he referred to sharia law. He said: “This is the clear and unambiguous text I am referring to for the reintroduction of the death penalty, this is the Qur’an.” And he gave the verse. We do not give up despite threats. I am threatened with rape, myself and my family members. Obviously, they write it down, they are not scared on social media. These threats do not make us give up. ”

Despite the moratorium, Tunisia continues to make regular death sentences. Since 2015, nearly 300 death sentences, some of which are not final, have been handed down in Tunisia. And in Tunisian prisons, nearly a hundred people have been sentenced to death. Their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment.


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