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Tunisia; Law professors call for an end to the ‘wave of repression’

June 9, 2023 at 8:50 am

Hundreds of opposition supporters gather to protest against the rule of President Kais Saied and demanded the release of human right activists, journalists and political and juristic figures opposed to the president who have been arrested in recent weeks in Tunis, Tunisia on March 05, 2023. [Yassine Gaidi – Anadolu Agency]

More than 50 professors from law faculties in Tunisia signed a petition demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners and detainees of conscience “who have been thrown into prison without just cause or fair trial,” as well as an end to the “wave of repression” in the country.

The statement, signed by 52 experts in law and political science, emphasised that lawyers defending the detainees have confirmed that the files are empty, lacking any evidence of guilt.

The signatories also highlighted that during the raid on the detainees’ homes, no weapons, ammunition, explosives, or other materials, equipment, or documents related to committing terrorist or non-terrorist crimes were found or confiscated.

They affirmed that establishing a case of conspiracy against state security based on examining the detainees’ computers and mobile phones has yielded nothing significant except the discovery of ordinary messages that do not constitute any criminal or terrorist act. The general principle of law states that “if the evidence is not established, the accused should be released,” they explained.

The signatories criticised the delays in the investigation procedures. Highlighting that elements of a fair trial are not available in these cases, including the presumption of innocence.

Furthermore, the signatories considered the decrees and orders issued based on exceptional measures, severe violations of the constitution and legality.

Tunisian authorities launched arrest campaigns targeting dozens of opposition figures and activists, including former deputies, ministers, party leaders, journalists, judges, lawyers, and human rights defenders. They were charged with “conspiring against state security, inciting people to attack each other, money laundering, colluding with foreign countries, spreading fake news, and committing a heinous act against the head of state,” but no evidence has been brought forward to prove the charges.

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