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UN condemns ‘rising repression’ in Tunisia following campaign of arrests

February 15, 2023 at 1:22 pm

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk on November 16, 2022 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, yesterday condemned the “escalation of repression” in Tunisia, following several arrests, including of former politicians, judges and an influential businessman.

His spokesman, Jeremy Lawrence, said during a press briefing in Geneva that Turk had expressed his “concern about the worsening repression against those perceived as political opponents and members of civil society in Tunisia, in particular through actions taken by the authorities to continue to undermine the independence of judiciary.”

“Since Saturday, at least nine people, including former officials, have been arrested, and some have been detained on security-related or corruption charges,” he added.

One of the leaders of the Ennahda Party, Noureddine Bhiri, and the general manager of the private radio station, Mosaique FM, were also arrested.

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“The UN Human Rights Office has also noted that the Public Prosecutor has increasingly initiated prosecutions against dissidents, accusing them of plotting against state security, insulting the head of state or violating the decree of the law related to combating cybercrime,” Lawrence explained.

“We are also concerned that some detainees have been tried before military courts for criticising the government. We call on the authorities to immediately stop trying civilians in military courts,” he added.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Tunisian authorities to respect due process and fair trials and to “immediately release” all those arbitrarily detained, including anyone detained for exercising their freedom of opinion or expression, said Lawrence.