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Tunisian anti-terror law

July 25, 2015

The Tunisian parliament has adopted new anti-terror legislation following deadly attacks claimed by extremist group "Islamic State." The law has been criticized by activists as a threat to human rights.

Tunisian police on a beach EPA/MOHAMED MESSARA
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Messara

The new law, which among other things allows suspects to be temporarily detained without access to a lawyer, was adopted by Tunisia's parliament overnight after three days of debate.

The president of the parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur, described the passing of the "law against terrorism and money laundering" as a "historic moment."

The law was passed in the wake of a massacre on a Tunisian beach on June 26, which killed 38 people.

The attack was claimed by the jihadist group "Islamic State" ("IS"), which also said it was behind an attack on the Bardo museum in the capital, Tunis, in March, which left 21 tourists dead.

Vehement criticism

The new legislation has received backing from both secular and Islamist parties, but has been slammed by rights groups and NGOs as draconian.

"This law poses a real threat to rights and liberties in Tunisia," said Amna Guellali, who represents the activist group Human Rights Watch in Tunis.

Opponents of the legislation have criticized it, among other things, for bringing back the death penalty for a number of terrorism-related offenses, although Tunisia has had a de facto moratorium on executions for the past 25 years.

Human rights activists also see as problematic a provision in the law making it easier for authorities to phone-tap suspects.

The law would also potentially make it possible to jail those who publicly support terrorism, something advocacy groups say could be used to suppress dissent.

Tourism badly hit

Tunisian authorities are anxious to re-establish the country's reputation as a safe destination after the attacks, which badly harmed its vital tourist industry.

On Friday, the interior ministry announced that authorities had thwarted a planned terrorist attack in the northern city of Bizerte, arresting 16 suspects and killing another.

Arms and explosives were also seized.

tj/jlw (AFP, AP)