Tunisian President Wants to Reestablish the Death Penalty

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Tunisian President Kais Saied stunned the country when he spoke in favor of reactivating the death penalty almost 29 years after executions were suspended.

Saied made reference to “high crime rates in the country,” calling to begin “dealing firmly with this phenomenon.”

His statement follows a meeting of the National Security Council in Carthage Palace. The meeting was prompted after authorities found the body of a 29-year-old woman identified only as “Rhama”. Rhama went missing while walking home from work, and her body was discovered last week dumped in a ditch in Ain Zaghouan.

Her family has called for the perpetrator’s execution.

“The perpetrators of such heinous crimes will not be considered for conditional release in the future, nor a reduction in the sentence, thus the pardon must be granted only to those who deserve it,” Saied continued.

The statement added: “The law is clear in this regard. Whoever kills a person for no reason shall be punished with the death penalty, especially those who commit multiple murders.”

Human rights groups have condemned the North African president’s remarks.

Responding to the announcement, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“Tunisia has not carried out any execution since 1991. The President’s announcement in favor of the death penalty is shocking and contravenes the decades-long established practice of not carrying out executions. President Saied is the first president to ever announce intentions to implement death sentences in Tunisia.”

“Resuming executions would be a slap in the face of all the human rights progress that the country has made so far. We urge the Tunisian President to immediately reverse his disturbing announcement which would take Tunisia’s human rights record backwards instead of forward. We also call on the Tunisia government to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

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