Tunisia to ease penalties for cannabis use

2017-03-15 22:06


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Tunis - Tunisians convicted of cannabis consumption will be able to avoid prison if it is their first offence, under new regulations issued on Wednesday.

The north African country has faced mounting calls from rights groups to reform a law that jails youths for a year for smoking a joint.

Law 52, dating back to the rule of toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, imposes a mandatory one-year jail sentence for narcotics use, ruling out any mitigating circumstances.

But the National Security Council headed by President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday announced measures to limit the number of users sent to prison.

For a first conviction, judges will be able to issue a pardon as soon as the judgment is pronounced.

The new measures will take effect on Monday, Tunisia's independence day.

Before Tunisia's 2011 revolution, Law 52 was used to suppress criticism of the Ben Ali regime.

Its application has since become widespread, with thousands of young Tunisians locked up each year, mostly for cannabis-related offences.

Between 2011 and 2016, the number of trials under the law shot up from 732 to 5 744, official figures show.

At the end of December, the government presented a draft amendment to parliament.

The text, which initially provided for the abolition of prison sentences for the first two convictions, is still blocked in the legislature.

Yosra Frawes of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said the new measures were "a step forward".

"It was not logical to tie the hands of the judges" by not allowing them to take extenuating circumstances into account, she said.

The changes "will avoid thousands of imprisonments," said lawyer Ghazi Mrabet.

"But they also mean that it will be case by case and judges will still be able to send people to prison."

Read more on:    zine el abidine ben ali  |  tunisia  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.