20120525 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 Tunisia

20120525 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011 Tunisia
US Department of State
Tunisia is a constitutional republic. After the revolution that deposed former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali’s two-decade-long regime on January 14, interim Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi first led an interim government, followed by Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi, who presided over the government and preparations for the country’s October 23 Constituent Assembly elections. The country held free and fair elections on October 23 for the Constituent Assembly, which was mandated to draft a new constitution and appoint a new government. Civilian and military security forces reported to civilian authorities.
Ben Ali’s departure created an unprecedented opening for respect for human rights in the country. Previous restrictions on freedoms of the press, expression, assembly, and association under Ben Ali’s 23-year dictatorship largely ceased, and citizens enjoyed new liberties as they prepared for and participated in the country’s first open, inclusive, and democratic election. Exiled political and human rights activists returned, imprisoned political prisoners were released, and civil society and human rights activists pursued their work without government disruption or intimidation.
Women vastly increased their political participation, but they continued to face significant societal barriers to their economic participation. There were reports of security officials using excessive force in arresting protesters, and poor prison conditions persisted. There were also reports of security officials not following legally established arrest procedures and continued concern about judicial independence.
At year’s end the government was pursuing legal action against Ben Ali-era officials accused of committing human rights abuses, as well as those suspected of corruption, but this process had not been completed. Some individuals eluded prosecution by fleeing the country, including Ben Ali.