The National Constituent Assembly started to review candidates for the Truth and Dignity Commission, a body created by the transitional justice law to investigate human rights violations dating from 1955.

The commission will review alleged human rights violations during the regimes of Tunisia’s first two presidents, Habib Bourguiba and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, as well as cases from the 2011 revolution. The assembly began reviewing applications on February 12 and will continue until February 27.

Numerous instances of torture and political imprisonment are known to have taken place during the Bourguiba and Ben Ali regimes.

The Truth and Dignity Commission was created by Article 17 of the transitional justice law ratified on December 15, 2013. Its task will be investigation of human rights abuses committed between January 1, 1955 and the day the commission is established. The duration of the commission’s work is limited to four years, but this period can be extended to provide it one additional year.

Ibrahim Hamdi, a member of the NCA committee charged with reviewing candidates, told radio station Mosaique FM that so far about 300 applications have been assessed, with around 420 more remaining. Among the candidates are well-known names like Sihem Ben Sedrine, a journalist and human rights activist known for her opposition to the Ben Ali regime, and former bar association president Mansour Cheffi.

Hamdi said that most candidates are less than 40 years old.

According to the transitional justice law, the commission will be composed of 15 members selected by the NCA, and each gender should be represented by at least one-third of its members. Among the members will be two representatives of organizations representing victims and two representatives of human rights organizations. These four will be nominated by their respective associations .

Candidates must be at least 35 years old, with no criminal record involving “moral corruption.”

The law prevents anyone who held a political position in the former government or in the former ruling parties from serving on the commission. It also excludes anyone who is proven to have called for former president Ben Ali to run in the 2014 presidential elections.

Source: Tunisialive, Feb. 17, 2014,