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Tunisian parliament argues ahead of security draft law discussion - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A riot police officer fires teargas during clashes with supporters of Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia at Hai al Tadamon in Tunis May 19, 2013. Source: Reuters/Anis Mili

A riot police officer fires teargas during clashes with supporters of Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia at Hai al Tadamon in Tunis May 19, 2013. Source: Reuters/Anis Mili

Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—An argument has erupted between members of the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly on the background of a discussion of a draft law aimed at protecting Tunisian security forces. According to the new law, all types of abuse will be criminalized and could carry prison sentences of up to 30 years and fines of up to TND 30,000 (USD 15,000), in cases where a security officer loses a limb or suffers a permanent disability. The prison sentence could rise to life in the case of the death of a security officer.

The law received strong opposition from politicians and civil society activists, because of the restrictive sanctions it contained and the broad authority it gave to security officers to impose restrictions on Tunisians, according to Tunisian and international human rights bodies.

Human rights sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that what this law would be like giving security officers absolute immunity which would put them, as they put it, “above the law.”

The sources added that the law must contain deterrent clauses for any security officer who abuses the law or violates the rights of individuals and groups. They said they expected the discussions to be heated when the law is presented to parliament for ratification.

It is worth noting that, following clashes with jihadist organizations, 109 parliament members called for speeding up the discussion of laws criminalizing attacks on security officers.

The events of Sha’anbi Mountains, western Tunisia, in early May, and the injuries caused to members of the security forces and the army by exploding mines which were laid for them, speeded up the opening of the files of revising employment laws of security services.

Unions of the internal security forces held a protest on 10 May in front of the parliament, calling on members to ratify the laws banning abuse of security officers and criminalizing them, and compensate the injured for injuries sustained while preventing extremism and terrorism.

Interior Ministry spokesman, Muhammad Ali Al-Arwi, told Asharq Al-Awsat that four laws had been referred to the government to discuss before referring them to the parliament for ratification. He added that those projects came under the reform of the security system and dealt with, primarily, peaceful demonstration and attacks on security officers and buildings, in addition to compensation for work related injuries.