At seven o’clock in the morning, head of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Rights and Freedoms Committee got up indolently and opened the windows of the luxurious hotel room where she had been residing since being elected as a representative of the people. Having inhaled the fresh morning air, she went back to her comfortable bed to drink her morning coffee slowly. Then, she put on her handsome cloths, finally collected her papers and put them in her case. The subject matter of that day’s discussions was the right to live.
At seven o’clock in the morning, head of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) Rights and Freedoms Committee got up indolently and opened the windows of the luxurious hotel room where she had been residing since being elected as a representative of the people. Having inhaled the fresh morning air, she went back to her comfortable bed to drink her morning coffee slowly. Then, she put on her handsome cloths, finally collected her papers and put them in her case. The subject matter of that day’s discussions was the right to live. Voting would settle the issue; this is how things are done now that Tunisians trust their representatives with their lives.
It is 1:00 am, voting has ended, and the majority of the committee members agreed as follows: “The right to life is a sacred right that should not be prejudiced save certain cases defined by the law and based on a judicial decision meeting all fair trial guarantees.”
The issue was settled and the Amnesty International (AI) petition submitted to the committee became useless, since the above statement gave the state the right to exercise the death penalty by virtue of a legal decision. Right after the revolution, AI tried to eliminate capital punishment and required the government as well as the NCA to insure human rights, the head of which was the right to life, and replace the death sentence with non-life taking punishments.
The AI’s report suggests that not a single execution was made during 2011, and that the Presidential Amnesty covered 122 persons sentenced to death. The report also provides a gloomy view about the Middle East and North African countries where capital punishment cases in 2011 increased by 50% in comparison to 2010. The report also shows that globally, 20 out of 198 countries witnessed executions in 2011, totaling 670 cases.
At three o’clock pm, in the NCA café, two MPs for the Republican Party and Ennahda Movement engaged in a dialogue. The former stressed the sacredness of human life and that none, even the state or it judiciary, had the right to end it, explaining with an angry tone that most of those sentenced to death were poor people inhabiting slums, and that it was an illogical non-deterrent punishment that did not help control crimes.
The latter however maintained his composure and quoted the following verses from Quran: “O ye who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder” and “In the Law of Equality, there is saving of life to you, o ye men of understanding!” He explained his point of view, saying: “Capital punishment is the core of respecting human life since it is taken against those threatening the lives of innocent people. The increase of serious crimes like rape and premeditated murder should be faced with a punishment that puts an end to the influence of a seriously dangerous segment threatening societal security and continuity.”
“These verses are for an era other than ours, and it is time we surpass them,” the former replied with great agitation.
At five o’clock, within the NCA headquarters, an MP resigning from Ettakatol Party recited to her colleague – an MP for the Democratic Path Party – the International Human Rights Law (IHRL) position of capital punishment: “It states that countries are entitled to impose death sentences as a penalty for the most serious crimes, by virtue of a decisive verdict resulting from a fair and legal trial by a competent independent court.”
She however said, “The perspective vis-à-vis this penalty is somehow different from IHRL’s traditional view. Many international bodies and organizations have joined additional protocols and agreements aimed at eliminating the death penalty. However, it is still implemented in a significant number of countries, such as the Islamic and Arab countries, including Tunisia, as well other countries like the USA and China.”
Meanwhile, a group of female MPs for Ennahda passed wearing dresses with different spring colors, whispering with suppressed laughs while one of them was reviewing an intervention about a call for establishing a house for “martyrs” to enjoy “life” in it.
It is midnight and a family is awaiting retribution against the rapist and killer of their daughter and a prisoner is eager for being pardoned and sees the halter around his neck, while the head of the Rights and Freedoms Committee takes a hot shower in her room at the hotel.