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France expresses concern about Tunisia wave of arrests 

February 25, 2023 at 9:42 am

Demonstrators holding placards and banners gather to show their support for lawyer and former Member of Parliament (MP) Seif Eddine Makhlouf, who was tried and sentenced in a military court outside the Military Court in Tunis, Tunisia on February 03, 2023 [Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency]

France has expressed “its concern regarding the recent wave of arrests in Tunisia”, calling on authorities to: “Ensure that individual liberties and civil liberties are respected, in particular the freedom of expression.”

This was conveyed in a press statement by the French Foreign Ministry, which was posted by the French Embassy to Tunisia on its website.

The statement also noted: “Since 2011, Tunisia has made considerable progress with regard to the rule of law and civil liberties. These democratic advances must be preserved.”

As of 16:00 GMT, there was no comment from the Tunisian authorities on the statement by the French Foreign Ministry, however, it usually confirms its respect for freedoms and rights.

Earlier on Friday, Tunisian security forces arrested Jawhar Bin Mubarak, leader of the National Salvation Front, according to a post by his father, political activist Izz Al-Din Al-Hazqi, on Facebook.

According to the opposition front on Friday, the Ministry of Interior transferred partisan detainees and political activists to the Public Prosecution Office “in a state of detention” without comment from the authorities.

READ: Amnesty calls on Tunisia to stop military trials of civilians

Since 11 February, Tunisia has been witnessing a campaign of arrests, including politicians, media professionals, activists, judges and businesspeople.

On 14 February, Tunisian President Kais Saied accused detainees of: “Conspiring against state security and being behind the crises of goods distribution and increased prices.”

While Saied repeatedly stresses the independence of the judicial system, the opposition accuses him of using the judiciary to pursue those who reject the exceptional measures that he began imposing on 25 July, 2021, causing a sharp division in the country.

These measures included dismissing the government and appointing another, dissolving the Judicial Council and Parliament, issuing legislation by presidential decree, holding early legislative elections and approving a new Constitution through a referendum.

Tunisia's president Kais Saied is bleeding the country - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Tunisia’s president Kais Saied is bleeding the country – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]