Tunisia tackles the rise of extremism
Some of the radical measures that Tunisia is putting in place to combat extremism following a deadly terror attack on its beaches last month and another attack on a museum earlier in the year include death sentences for those found guilty of terror, and detaining terror suspects for up to 15 days without access to a lawyer.
The Tunisian Parliament, Al Jazeera reported, has voted in favour of implementing new antiterror laws after the country was shocked by an attack that saw scores of British tourists killed by a lone gunman in Sousse.
The president of the Tunisian parliamentary assembly, Mohamed Ennaceur, reportedly called the passing of the law a “historic” moment, saying it would “reassure” the nation’s citizens.
Thirty-seven European tourists were killed in the coastal resort city of Sousse in June when a gunman opened fire with a weapon he had hidden under an umbrella.
The gunman, a student who was later found to have undergone training by extremist group the Islamic State, was later shot dead by the police.
In March, at least 19 people, 17 of whom were tourists, were killed in the Bardo National Museum in central Tunis. Polish, Japanese, Italian, Australian, French, Spanish and Colombian tourists were said to be among those who were killed during the museum attack. These acts of extremism are threatening the status of Tunisia as a popular tourist market, but now the country is fighting back, with the aim of tackling radical groups and individuals who plot and execute such attacks.
The north African country declared a state of emergency after the beach attacks, with President Beji Caid Essebsi declaring that it was in a “state of war”.
But according to the BBC, advocacy groups are warning that the law is too draconian.
The groups say the definition of terrorist crimes in the legislation is too vague and fails to safeguard the rights of defendants.
Critics have also condemned the return of capital punishment as envisaged by the law after a lengthy moratorium on executions.
A correspondent for Al Jazeera told BBC: “The [Tunisian] government says with the new bill, it will be able to tackle the rise of violence, but it also says it needs financial and military support from the international community so it can defeat armed groups.”
Meanwhile, CNN reports that Turkey had arrested nearly 600 suspects as it intensified airstrikes on Islamic State military targets along the border with Syria. The strikes also targeted the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) a day after Islamic State militants killed a Turkish soldier in border clashes.
The airstrikes targeted PKK militants in shelters, depots and caves around mountainous areas near the Iraq border.
“This is a package deal for the Turks,” counterterrorism expert Philip Mudd told CNN.
The US reached an agreement with Turkey to increase US and coalition access to Turkish air bases. The deal provides the US military with crucial access from Turkey into Syria and Iraq.
ANTITERRORISM Mohamed Ennaceur