Tunisia Parliament Approves Death Sentence for Terrorists After ISIS Attacks

Thirty-nine tourists were killed last month by the Islamic State group in Tunisian beach city; MPs pass new 'anti-terror' law by margin of 174-0.


REUTERS - Tunisia's parliament on Saturday overwhelmingly approved legislation allowing the death penalty for those convicted on terrorism charges after Islamist militant attacks that killed dozens of foreign visitors in the past few months.

Last month, a gunman killed 39 mostly British tourists in the Tunisian seaside city of Sousse. In March, two gunmen killed 21 foreign tourists and a policeman at Tunis's Bardo Museum. Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

MPs approved the bill by a margin of 174-0 with 10 abstentions early on Saturday after three days of debate in what parliament speaker Mohamed Ennaceur called an "extraordinary effort" to make the North African country a safer place.

Human Rights Watch had criticized the bill, which also eases arrests of suspects, saying it "would open the way to prosecuting political dissent as terrorism, give judges overly broad powers, and curtail lawyers' ability to provide an effective defense."

Tunisia has undergone a largely peaceful transition to democracy since its 2011 popular uprising. But its army has been fighting a rise in Islamist militancy.

Tunisia is especially concerned about militants entering from adjacent Libya, where Islamic State has established a toehold amid chaos caused by two rival governments battling for control, leaving a security vacuum.

Tunisia says it has started building a wall and trench along the insecure 168 kilometers (105 miles) of its frontier with Libya. The Sousse gunman obtained training with militants in Libya before carrying out his attack.