Speak Truth To Power (News)
Speak Truth To Power Human Rights Defender Juan Mendez Advocates For Anti-Torture Safeguards In Tunisia
Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Speak Truth To Power human rights defender and a board member of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, has urged Tunisia's transitional government to institute official safeguards to prevent torture of Tunisian people.
Mendez' public address was reacting to violations perpetrated throughout the 24 year reign of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali as well as to recent incidents during the time of transition.
“Swift, effective and independent criminal investigations against alleged perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment should be ensured, and administrative programs should be launched offering redress and reparation services to victims of past and recent violations.” Mendez urged.
Earlier this year, civil unrest erupted throughout the country as Tunisians, spurred by the self-immolation of a 26-year old Tunisian street vendor, protested against the soaring prices of basic commodities, increasing unemployment, government corruption and restrictions on fundamental freedoms which culminated in the toppling of former president Ben Ali’s regime.
“Restoring justice for past abuses, honoring victims and reacting firmly when abuses occur are urgent measures that cannot wait. To ensure the establishment of solid safeguards against torture and ill-treatment, broad and participatory debates should be launched on constitutional, legislative and administrative reforms and on what kind of state Tunisians want to build for their future.”
Juan Mendez is a lawyer by training and a visiting professor at American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington DC. Formerly, Mendez served President of the International Center on Transitional Justice and the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide. In the early 1970s, Mendez helped create a human rights movement in his native country of Argentina where he was eventually detained by Argentine security forces and brutally tortured. Please read about Juan Mendez in the interview conducted by Kerry Kennedy for the book Speak Truth To Power.