Former Political Prisoners Make a Stand at Tunisian Border
Fifteen former political prisoners from the Ben Ali era have stationed themselves at a Tunisian border crossing and threaten to enter Algeria by force if their demands to be compensated are not met. The group seeks remuneration from the government for abuses suffered under the previous regime, and will apply for asylum in Algeria if this current bid fails. The former political prisoners are mostly from the rural region of Kasserine but their political affiliations range from Tunisia’s former communist workers party to the ruling Ennahda party. A press attaché from the Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice responded saying that the current government does not have the funds to compensate these men and that law enforcement will intervene to prevent an illegal crossing.
Meanwhile, the United Nations working group on discrimination against women in law and in practice called on Tunisia to defend women’s rights in response to a controversial draft constitution article. The statue in question describes “women being ‘complementary to men,’ thereby failing to establish the basis for full independence and empowerment of women,” according to the committee.
However, Monica Marks argues in Foreign Policy that the controversial draft article regarding women’s rights in the new Tunisian constitution does not necessarily undermine gender equality if approved. The wording, Marks says, departs somewhat from Western notions and is reflective of the view of many Islamist movements that “prefers to see persons as interconnected within an umma, or faithful community, comprised of different but equal components.” Nevertheless, Marks agrees that the article in its current form is vague and could make it more difficult to institute reforms in areas like inheritance law which currently favors men.