Tunisia: Three People Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Cannabis Use

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THREE people were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison in Tunisia for using cannabis and this verdict has ignited public debate in the country to the point of causing Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi to react on February 1.

The conviction for the consumption of cannabis has sparked a heated debate in the country around its legislation. The judgment, handed down on January 20 by a court in Kef (north), “does not relate only to the consumption of narcotics but also to the use of a sports field for the consumption of drugs,” specified on January 31 to the AFP.

A spokesman of the court, Mohamed Faouzi Daoudi said Tunisian law provides for a severe penalty for the consumption of narcotics in the public space, citing “law 52 and chapters 7 and 11”.

On social media, using the hashtag in Arabic “#prison-no, change 52”, many users protested against the verdict and called for a demonstration.

The director of the regional office of Amnesty International, Amna Guellali, described the decision made by the courts as “unacceptable” rejecting “all the [prison] sentences issued concerning the consumption and possession of narcotics”.

Faced with the outcry, the Tunisian Prime Minister reacted during his visit to the headquarters of the National Authority for the Fight against Corruption (INLUCC) on February 1. Prime Minister, Hichem Mechichi, said that it was “excessive that a young man should be sentenced to 30 years in prison for consumption narcotics.”

As reported by the Tunisie Numérique website, the head of the Tunisian government has also announced the modification of the much-maligned law 52.

Tunisia has been in the grip of a serious social crisis since mid-January and on January 30, several hundred young Tunisians took to the streets of the country’s capital to protest against police repression and to demand the release of the demonstrators arrested the previous days.

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