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Tunisia: detainees’ families appeal to African Court for release

May 25, 2023 at 11:09 am

Yusra Ghannouchi (R) and Kaouther Ferjani (L), the daughters of prominent Tunisian political detainees, are photographed during an interview in Nairobi on May 23, 2023 [TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images]

The families of political opponents detained by Tunisian President Kais Saied have filed a complaint to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights seeking the immediate release of their loved ones, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed has reported.

According to former foreign minister, and son-in-law of Rached Ghannouchi, Rafik Abdessalem, “Several families of political prisoners have filed a complaint to the court in Tanzania.” The most prominent, he said, are Dr Yusra Ghannouchi, daughter of Sheikh Ghannouchi, and Kawther Al-Ferjani, daughter of Sayed Al-Ferjani, both of Ennahda.

“The Tunisian government should release political prisoners unconditionally,” insisted Abdessalem. “They should also put an end to the violation of freedoms and human rights that are increasing day after day under the rule of Kais Saied.”

Tunisia, he pointed out, is one of only six African countries that have fully approved the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. “The government is, therefore, obliged to implement its rulings.”

Since the beginning of February, the Tunisian authorities have detained more than 20 political opponents and public figures, including former ministers, in a campaign of suppression that has been condemned by the international community and human rights groups.

Rached Ghannouchi, 81, is a key opponent of the Tunisian president. He was arrested in April and sentenced on 15th May to one year in prison on charges of “glorifying terrorism”. His daughter Yusra, 45, lives in the United Kingdom. She told Agence France-Presse that the accusations against her father, the former Speaker of Parliament, are “politicised and fabricated”, and are part of Saied’s attempt to “eliminate the opposition”.

Saied, however, insists that the detainees are “terrorists” involved in a ” conspiracy against the internal and external security of the state”. His political opponents describe the arrests and charges as part of his “coup”, and a return to autocratic rule in the only democracy that emerged after the Arab Spring uprisings more than a decade ago.

READ: 150 Western academics call on Tunisia to release Ghannouchi, political prisoners