8 December 2012

Tunisia: 'Path Towards Construction of Human Rights Tunisia Is Difficult and Full of Traps,' Says President Marzouki

Carthage — President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki assured that the fact "of demanding from a government, which has been in power for just one year, to carry out radical changes in laws, institutions and mindset inherited from half a century of dictatorship, is just an act of defiance and bad faith."

This statement was made during a ceremony held on Saturday morning in Carthage, on the occasion of the World Human Rights Day, with attendance of Speaker of the National Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar and several Government members.

President Marzouki pointed out that Government has been submitted to a constant pressure from "an excessive freedom of expression of some media" which, as he put it, "have not always been professional. Nonetheless, it must be said that we are far from having achieved our objectives and the path towards the construction of a human rights Tunisia is still difficult and full of traps," he admitted.

He added, "important efforts need to be made to convince our fellow citizens that the constitution, or even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, does not contradict the values of Islam chosen as a State religion."

Mr. Marzouki also underscored the need to undertake "a radical change of mindset within the security apparatus," pointing out that "a minority could not affect the institution's image, or Tunisia's, under a political regime led by human rights activists."

Important efforts, he added, need to be exerted to help make of civil society "the pillar of the citizen State and an independent partner in the process of making decisions, their implementation and assessment."

He pointed out that human rights are an end in themselves, but a continuous process which requires constant mobilization, paying tribute to the foreign human rights associations' support to Tunisia's fight against oppression under the former regime.

For his part, Speaker of the National Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar commended the support provided by several human rights organisations and components of the civil society in sisterly and friendly countries to the struggle of the Tunisians against oppression.

These organisations have been for a long time the voice of Tunisia in the world and with international human rights organisations, he said.

The democratic transition process is on the right track, stated Ben Jaafar, adding that two years after the Revolution, the country is moving towards a consensus on the new Constitution being drafted.

Despite some inconsistencies in the process of transition to democracy, Tunisia has never seen such a climate of freedom, underlined Ben Jaafar.

Regarding the social situation, the Speaker of NCA said Tunisia is relying on its own resources and on support from its partners to meet the challenges.

Minister of Human Rights and Transitional Justice Samir Dilou said the struggles and sacrifices for freedom were not made only by activists but also by families of prisoners, women and children whose lives were made unbearable by the former regime.

As human rights activists from Tunisia and foreign countries were presenting testimonies on abuses in the period of dictatorship, Honorary President of the Tunisian Judges Association (AMT) Ahmed Rahmouni protested against the "exclusion" of this association from the ceremony.

As he left the hall, he told the media he could not believe that the struggle of the AMT against the former regime which had persecuted it by all means be totally neglected.

President of the National Union of Tunisian Judges Raoudha Labidi condemned, on her part, "this exclusion" which is according to her a form of denial of the struggle made by the association during the burning years, adding that the judicial service is the guarantor of human rights and individual freedoms in the country.

President of the National Council of Freedoms Sihem Ben Sedrine expressed solidarity with the association and union of Tunisian judges, saying she did not understand why judges and journalists were excluded from this tribute.

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