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Tunisia: HRW urges president to lift repressive measures

Tunisian army barricade the parliament building in the capital Tunis on 26 July 2021, after the president dismissed the prime minister and ordered parliament closed for 30 days. [YASSINE MAHJOUB/AFP via Getty Images]
Tunisian forces take security measures around parliament during a protest against suspending parliament, in Tunis, Tunisia on 26 July 2021 [YASSINE MAHJOUB/AFP/Getty Images]

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to protect human rights and lift the "repressive" steps that have been imposed since he took the exceptional measures declared on 25 July.

In a statement on its website, HRW stressed that one of the factors that raises concern over the exceptional resolutions announced by Saied on 25 July is the absence of a Constitutional Court.

HRW pointed out that the Constitutional Court has the power to scrutinise the exceptional decisions taken by the president of the republic (stipulated in Article 80 of the Constitution), to determine whether the circumstance calls for its extension.

"President Saied should allow all media outlets, including Al Jazeera, to work freely and announce intolerance to any violation against the right of all media platforms to cover and criticise his policies," announced HRW.

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Eric Goldstein, acting director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at HRW, stated: "Whether they cheer or protest Saied's decisions, all Tunisians deserve to live in dignity and have an accountable government." He noted: "No matter how legitimate people's grievances may be, they must not be used as an excuse to undermine rights."

Goldstein added that when the president of the republic claims that the Constitution grants him powers, and immediately after that, the police start prosecuting journalists, the situation portends ill outcomes for the human rights situation.

He asserted that whatever the government's record in tackling the coronavirus crisis might be, seizing powers that may be used to strike fundamental rights should ring alarm bells at any time.

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