Welcome to the Tunisian Security Pulse! In this bi-weekly installment we will summarize articles from the Tunisian Arabic daily newspapers relating to Tunisian Security.
June 9, 2014
Feisal al-Tabini, head of the Farmer’s Voice Party, demanded on Shams FM that those who burn crops be prosecuted as terrorists.
The defense ministry denied the Army’s involvement in the anniversary celebrations of the Ennahda party, as had been reported in newspapers and electronic media. The ministry explained that soldiers had been attending a flag raising ceremony, and both events happened to take place in Casbah Square.
The series of arson incidents by smugglers in the area of Kef, Jendouba, and Ghardimaou continued with a fire at a gas station between Jendouba and Ghardimaou.
Residents of the Mnihla area blocked Shenua Street in the capital in protest of the deteriorating environmental situation in the region.
Rabah al-Khirayfi, a member of the constituent assembly who sits on the screening committee, praised the decision of the president to criminalize travel to “hotbeds of tension,” as demanded by members of the Right. Khirayfi also mentioned that the General Legislative Committee and the Basic Freedoms Committee would be considering additional anti-terror measures, such as bringing terrorism charges for those outside the country and giving the army the authority to use its equipment to assist in the struggle against terrorism within the country. These issues will be discussed alongside the implementation of the new terrorism law.
Security sector unions are facing charges of politicization, which many both inside and outside of the interior ministry say must be solved quickly. More recently, news has circulated that the Minister of the Interior, Lotfi Ben Jeddou, has said that he will take the necessary steps to solve this issue.
As constitutional law professor Qais Said says, the new constitution definitely includes the right of security personnel to unionize, but it remains unclear how best to do this without the unions going off track, as they clearly have now. The focus of the unions has shifted from protecting workers’ rights to taking control of the security apparatus.
Up to 400 thousand traders and craftsmen could take part in an upcoming general strike in protest of their sector’s deteriorating status.
Badis Kobakji demanded that the Rescue Association of Tunisians Trapped Abroad, the Central Bank, and fiscal authorities work to find those associations and families receiving funds in Syria. He claimed that about 10,000 Tunisian families are involved in terrorism.
The Algerian army is reducing its presence on the Tunisian border.
Fireworks, which are widespread in Tunisia, are causing concern both in their potential to incite panic and their use in terrorist attacks, such as in the killing of four members of security forces in Kasserine. At-Tunisia spoke with officials in the Ministries of Trade and the Interior about this issue. Mohammad Aysa, the General Director of Internal Affairs and Economic Research in the Ministry of Trade, said that the Ministry has issued a joint statement with the Interior and Health Ministries that there is a continued ban on supplying, making, or selling fireworks.
The proposed terrorism and money laundering law (number 9 for the year 2014) has been under discussion in the Constituent Assembly for a week now, and throughout this time the debate has swung between the need to be strong on terror and the need to respect human rights. The law is meant to go after both perpetrators and funders of terror, and would update the 2003 terrorism law that was instituted by Ben Ali as part of the Global War on Terror.
Azad Badi, head of the Loyalty Movement, says that the 2003 law was used as a tool of oppression and left no room for the consideration of human rights and freedoms, both before and after the revolution. He also said he would address any attempts to repress the people or restore a dictatorship. Basheer al-Nafzi, head of the Congress for the Republic bloc, said nearly the same thing, adding that the old law did not respect fundamental freedoms and humanitarian principle and calling the law a “double-edged sword.”
On the other hand, Hafith Bin Saleh, the justice minister, and Lutfi Bin Jedou, the interior minister, have jointly urged the assembly to keep the law focused on deterrence and strength in combating terror.
June 11, 2014
Recent reports show that the Gafsa region leads the country in protests, accounting for a full third of the total amount of spontaneous demonstrations.
Parties in the Constituent Assembly, especially Ennahda, attempted to get the Interior Minister Lutfi Bin Jedou, the Defense Minister Ghazi al-Jareebi, and the Justice Minister Hafith Bin Saleh to testify about the security situation and recent terrorist activities in a secret session, after Bin Jedou mentioned in a public session that there were things about he could not say publicly. Al-Maghrib has learned that Mustapha Ben Jafar, the president of the Constituent Assembly, has refused to respond to this request.
The Constituent Assembly has continued to debate the Anti-Terror and Money Laundering law (number 9 of 2014), with debate centering around the definition of terrorism, how to classify the struggle in Palestine, and which crimes deserve the death penalty. Hajir Aziz, a representative for Ennahda, said portions of the law needed to be rewritten to clarify the definition of terrorism, criticizing the current text for a lack of organization and precision. She wrapped up by agreeing with the Interior Minister that it would be better to pass the parts of the law in a series of partial measures rather than trying to artificially unify them.
Jamal Boujaja, another Ennahda representative, added that the law failed to address Tunisia’s specific terror problem, and instead sought to portray terror as it appeared “in American films.”
The deputy head of the General Legislative Committee, Samia Abu of the Democratic Current, replied to those expressing doubts in the draft law, saying that it is meant to fight terrorism specifically and not other crimes, which have different intentions at their roots. She urged all present to not forget the general framework of the law. She also pointed out the necessity of working on this draft responsibly, lest the government continue to use the 2003 terror law. She concluded by saying the most important thing to work on in the law was to ensure that the wording of each section was clear.
Independent representative Muhammad Najeeb Hosni asserted the necessity of shaping the law in accordance with the interior ministry’s needs and the reality of fighting terrorism. He added that currently Article 13 of the law is the worst written.
On the subject of the death penalty, Sameer Bin Amr, a representative for Congress for the Republic, cautioned against weakening penalties in the Terrorism Law, given that the penal code calls for the death penalty for similar crimes. He brought up the possibility, therefore, that the accused would seek to be tried as a terrorist in order to avoid the death penalty. If those in the government really want to get rid of the death penalty, said Bin Amr, they should do so in an organized way, not just in the case of terrorism.
Ennahda representative Sonia Tawmiyya said that there are currently 25 crimes that could bring the death penalty in Tunisia, and challenged the idea that the death penalty is the worst sentence in the legal code. Life in Tunisia’s prison is much worse, she said, as there are no amenities, poor conditions, and families have to move to visit their children.
Additionally, Askander Boalaqi of the El-Mahabbah Current exhorted the assembly to make an allowance for jihad in the Terrorism Law, pointing out the struggle in Palestine. He was careful to note that he did not include terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in his definition of jihad.
National security forces conducting operations on Mt. Boulhenash (northeast of the city of Talah) came under attack by a terrorist group, which they then pursued, but were unable to capture.