24 December 2014

Tunisia: 20-Year-old Woman Arrested and Tortured for her Facebook Account

On 5 December 2014, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture (SRT) regarding the case of a young woman arrested and tortured by the security services under the pretext of fighting against terrorism.

Arrested by agents of the antiterrorism squad in October, the victim was taken to their office for questioning. Her lawyer reported that, upon arrival, she was forcibly undressed, beaten with fists, feet, and with the help of a stick, and threatened with rape if she did not confess to have been managing two Facebook accounts linked to a terrorist movement, accusations that she categorically denies.

After losing consciousness, she was urgently taken to hospital, where the doctor on duty requested her immediate transfer to a medical centre specialised in traumatology, a request which the antiterrorism squad denied to her. Despite the seriousness of her condition, she was taken back to the police headquarters where she continued to be subjected to torture.

Following her six-day detention, the victim was brought before the investigating judge of the Tunis court. Without failing to observe her condition and the visible signs of torture she suffered, the judge postponed the hearing to the following week, and did not even order a medical examination.

At the insistence of the victim and her lawyers, the deputy prosecutor finally agreed to hear the acts of torture that she had suffered. But although the judge ordered a medical examination, no action was taken. In addition, the prison doctor refused to admit that she had been tortured.

During her preventive detention, new proceedings were opened against the young woman. With the investigating judge's permission, she was then brought back to the antiterrorism squad's premises to be questioned. There, she was threatened and brutalised again in order to force her to confess new charges against her.

Today, her family is particularly concerned that their daughter be brought, once again, to the antiterrorism squad and that she be further tortured.

Despite ongoing criminal proceedings against them, detained defendants in Tunisia are always at risk of torture outside prison, with the approval of a judge who removes them from the protection of the law, allowing police forces to continue the questioning within their premises.

In view of this information, Alkarama submitted the young woman's case to the Special Rapporteur Against Torture (SRT) calling him to intervene as a matter of urgency within the Tunisian authorities to remind them of their obligations deriving from the ratification of the Convention against Torture in June 1993, including the prohibition to transfer detainees from prisons to police stations where they can be interrogated outside the protection of the law.

Alkarama also recalls that the Tunisian authorities have the obligation to open impartial and independent investigations into the allegations of torture made by the victims, and that they must refrain from using confessions obtained through torture in the context of legal proceedings.

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Dir: +41 22 734 1007 Ext: 810)

Tunisia - HR Instruments

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

ICCPR: Ratified on 18.03.1969
Optional Protocol: No

State report: Overdue since 31.03.2012 (6th)
Last concluding observations: 23.04.2008

Convention against Torture (CAT)

CAT: Ratified on 23.09.1988
Optional Protocol: 29.06.2011
Art. 20 (Confidential inquiry): Yes
Art. 22 (Individual communications): Yes

Last State report: Submitted on 13.10.2014
Last concluding observations: 01.01.1999

International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED)

CED: Ratified on 14.05.2013
Art. 33 (Inquiry procedure): Yes

Last State report: 25.09.2011
Last concluding observations: -

Universal Periodic Review (UPR)

Last review: 05.2012 (2nd cycle)
Next review: -

National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

Comité Supérieur des Droits de l'Homme et des Libertés Fondamentales (CSDHLF) – Status B

Last review: 11.2009
Next review: -