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14 January 2011 Square, Tunis

Driving Justice: Victims’ Participation and Mobilisation in Tunisia’s Struggles for Redress

Between 1956 and 2011, Tunisia endured decades of authoritarian rule under Presidents Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The Tunisian Revolution in 2011 led to the ousting of Ben Ali and catalysed the start of the institutional transitional justice process. Yet, mobilisation against authoritarian rule and the curtailment of basic freedoms also predated the establishment of this formal process.

In this episode, our guests Houcine Bouchiba, Hamza Ben Nasr and Leila Bejaoui discuss how the participation and activism of victims, supported by victims’ organisations and civil society, profoundly shaped the transitional justice process in Tunisia. Survivors and activists have played a pivotal role in pushing for accountability, supporting truth-seeking, and advocating for reform – despite facing numerous obstacles and waning public and political will.

Houcine, Hamza and Leila speak to the realizations and setbacks of the Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) and the Specialized Criminal Chambers, whilst illustrating the importance of foregrounding gendered harms and socio-economic demands (for employment, and livelihoods) in the Tunisian context.

At the same time, the events of July 2021 have caused widespread concern about the country’s transitional justice trajectory. This also prompted our guests to reflect on how the current reality affects victims’ experiences and trajectories, and how it pushes victims’ organisations and civil society to reorganize in order to revitalize justice efforts and resist autocratization.

This episode was realized in collaboration with Avocats Sans Frontières (Lawyers Without Borders), Tunis branch.

Information about the speakers:

Houcine Bouchiba is a human rights activist, transitional justice expert and former president of the Al-Karama victims’ association. After the Tunisian revolution, he accompanied the transitional justice process from the very start and also acted as Secretary-General of the Tunisian Coalition for Transitional Justice.

Hamza Ben Nasr is Transitional Justice Coordinator at the Tunis office of the international NGO Lawyers Without Borders. He is also a coordinator of the Tunisian Coalition for Transitional Justice, a network of civil society organisations working to promote and defend the principles of transitional justice in the country.

Leila Bejaoui is a psychotherapist, member of the Al-Karama victims’ association and a feminist activist in various other civil society organisations.

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