Tunisia has been a rare and extraordinary exception to the nearly universal culture of impunity across the Arab world, notes George Washington University’s Marc Lynch. Tunisians made transitional justice—the judicial and non-judicial measures to redress the legacy of human rights abuses—a central plank of the post-revolutionary transition. The 2014 constitution enshrined transitional justice in its text, and the process was discussed widely in a series of dialogues held in every province of the country, he writes for Carnegie’s Diwan blog:
Since beginning its operations in 2014, a Truth and Dignity Commission (generally known by its French acronym IVD) has held hearings across Tunisia and has received more than 65,000 files on human rights cases. In a region where virtually none of the many state perpetrators of atrocities have ever been brought to justice, this is a remarkable achievement.
“Despite all these political controversies, the significance of one of the first experiments in transitional justice in the Arab world should not be forgotten. The IVD at least promises a confrontation with the reality of historical repression which the Arab world has rarely seen,” Lynch adds. “The IVD has already uncovered genuinely shocking levels of rape, abuse, and torture of Tunisian citizens by the state. It remains unclear whether these findings will end up only in a report documenting these horrors, or will lead to actual prosecutions of the guilty.”