Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Tunisia must revise 'draconian' drug law: HRW

02 February 2016, 14:29

Tunis - Tunisia must stop widespread abuses under its draconian drug use law by drafting new legislation to eliminate prison sentences for recreational drug use or possession, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The controversial "Law 52", passed under toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, lays down harsh jail sentences for drugs use, in most cases cannabis resin, or "zatla" as it is known in Tunisia.

HRW said in a statement that thousands of people are jailed each year in Tunisia "merely for consuming or possessing small quantities of cannabis for personal use".

The New York-based watchdog issued a 33-page that it said "documents the human rights abuses and social toll that stem from enforcement of the country's draconian drug law".

The group said it interviewed 47 people who have been jailed in Tunisia for drugs offences and found that enforcement of the law had resulted in "serious human rights violations".

Also Read: Thomas Cook cancels Tunisia bookings

"The people interviewed described beatings and insults during arrest and interrogation, mistreatment during urine tests, and searches of homes without judicial warrants," it said.

One identified only by the initials S.T. said he felt "broken" after five months behind bars for using cannabis, before being pardoned.

"When I got out, people would look at me as a criminal," he was quoted as saying. "Someone who spent time in prison is always a criminal."

People convicted of drug offences account for 28 percent of prisoners in Tunisia, and about 70 percent of them were jailed for using or possessing cannabis, HRW said, citing the justice ministry.

"If you smoke a joint in Tunisia, you risk getting arrested, beaten up by the police, sent for a urine test, and then sentenced to a year in an overcrowded prison with hardened criminals as your cellmates," said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at HRW.

"If Tunisia gets its drug law reform right, it can be a model for the region," she said in a statement.

Also Read: Tunisia imposes nationwide curfew amid spreading unrest

A group of activists named "Al Sajin 52" (Prisoner 52) says the law is "destroying lives".

A draft amendment was sent to in parliament in late December, but the assembly has yet to announce a schedule for its debate and vote.

The draft law abolishes jail terms for first- and second-time offenders.

However, HRW said it would also outlaw "public incitement to commit drug-related offences", a provision it warned would harm freedom of speech, with possible repercussions on rap artists.

"The new draft bill tacitly acknowledges the heavy toll that the current drug law has imposed on Tunisians, especially its youth," said Guellali.

"Parliament should take the logic to its conclusion by eliminating prison sentences altogether for drug use or possession for personal use."

As of December 15, 7,451 people were in Tunisia's prisons after being convicted of drugs offences under Law 52, the watchdog said, citing justice ministry figures.



Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...