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In today’s Tunisia judge's opinions and legal texts are not important, lawyers warn

May 22, 2023 at 2:45 pm

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Judicial crackdowns and persecution will not silence a generation that grew up in an atmosphere of freedoms after the January 2011 revolution in Tunisia, activists have said.

Restrictions and attacks on activists are only strengthening their determination, activist Ali Kanis has said.

Political detainee Sahbi Atigue has now started a hunger strike in prison, lawyer Saida Al-Akrami said on Saturday after visiting him. He has “lost five kilogrammes of weight. His face has also become pale, while he walks slowly and the signs of emaciation are evident,” she added.

“Sahbi Atigue has only consumed one litre of water throughout an entire week. He has been transferred to the hospital but refused to step out of the prison vehicle with his hands bound, and then he was examined by a doctor inside the vehicle.” She emphasised that he is “insisting about his hunger strike and will only end it at his home or when he passes away.”

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Tunisian President Kais Saied’s interference in the judiciary and his continuous pressure on it has become well-known to both domestic and international observers.

On Saturday, dozens of Tunisian judges, lawyers, activists and foreign human rights defenders gathered at a symposium to discuss the authorities’ efforts to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Lawyer Dalila Mosadeq, a member of the Defence Committee for Political Prisoners, said “the judiciary awaits instructions to either detain or release individuals, and it is no longer independent or has decision-making authority. It is under pressure.”

The role of the defence, she added, has become a formality, used to add legitimacy to trials, while “pleadings, the judge’s opinion and legal texts are no longer important, and what is important is the executive authority’s decisions.”

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