Amnesty for corrupt Ben Ali cronies, despite Tunisia protests

Amnesty for corrupt Ben Ali cronies, despite Tunisia protests
The economic reconciliation bill remains under consideration despite popular protests and condemnation by civil and international communities.
2 min read
03 September, 2015
Dozens protested the new bill in the capital, Tunis [Anadolu]

Tunisian presidential spokesperson Moez Sinawi said on Tuesday that the country's economic reconciliation bill would not be withdrawn from the parliament, according to the Tunisian news agency TAP.

"There are several political misconceptions and exaggerations about the bill," Sinawi said. "Even though it is considered one of the pillars of transitional justice."

If adopted, the bill would grant amnesty to thousands of allegedly corrupt businessmen, ministers, top aides of ousted dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - in exchange for their wealth, which they are reported to have embezzled from state funds.

The draft bill was proposed by President Beji Caid Essebsi in March and approved by the government in July, before it was referred to the parliament for ratification.

Sinawi's statement came after dozens protested in front of the Tunisian General Labour Union in Tunis, shouting: "We will not forgive."

The police forcibly prevented the march from going to the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue and briefly detained a number of protesters.

The proposed new law would make a sham of the noble concept of truth and reconciliation.
- José Ugaz

On Monday, Transparency International issued a press release condemning the bill and calling on the government to reject it.

"There is nothing in the proposed law to make the corrupt name the cronies or high officials in the Tunisian government who helped them steal," the press release said. "This allows the most corrupt in Tunisia to escape justice."

The group's chairman, José Ugaz, added: "The proposed new law would make a sham of the noble concept of truth and reconciliation.

"The biggest thieves who enriched themselves under Tunisian dictator Ben Ali would be able to escape justice in return for putting some of their ill-gotten gains back into the economy. That will only serve to boost the influence and power of the corrupt."

Following the government's approval of the bill in July, Sihem Ben Sedrine, president of the Truth and Dignity Committee, which is in charge of transitional justice, criticised the new amnesty bill.

"Former regime figures, if granted amnesty, would commit the same financial crimes they did during their rule," she told Press TV.

"They will only become more powerful if there is a week justice system," Ben Sedrine added. "It is senseless and risky to reconcile with people who never admitted wrongdoing or asked for forgiveness."

The new bill threatens to break the relative stability that Tunisia has managed to maintain since its 2011 revolution ousted Ben Ali and triggered a series of Arab Spring uprisings.