Geneva – Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor condemns the escalating campaign of arrests conducted by Tunisian security forces against human rights lawyers and opinion activists in the country based on statements and criticism of governmental entities and their public policy.

The Tunisian security forces carried out an arrest campaign targeting activists and lawyers on Saturday, 11 May, during which they stormed the headquarters of the Bar Association in the Tunisian capital, in a dangerous precedent that had never happened before, even under the regime of ZainEl Abidine Ben Ali, which was known for highly restricting rights and freedoms.  

   This escalating campaign of repression in Tunisia is part of a systematic policy of undermining rights and freedoms   

This escalating campaign of repression in Tunisia is part of a systematic policy of undermining rights and freedoms, especially regarding the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and the Right to Peaceful Assembly.

This campaign of arrests and the previous arrests and judicial rulings to restrict every voice that contradicts the views and policies of public authorities constitute a flagrant violation of the constitutional guarantees of human rights in Tunisia, especially Article (37) of the Constitution, which guarantees the Right to Freedom of Opinion, Expression and Media, in addition to Article (42), which guarantees the Right to Peaceful Assembly, and Article (55), which establishes very narrow limits to restrict these rights without prejudice to what any democratic system requires, and without prejudice to the essence of rights and freedoms that enjoy constitutional protection.

The ongoing arrest campaign in Tunisia also constitutes a grave violation of Tunisia’s international obligations that constitute a guarantee of human rights, especially Article (19) guaranteeing the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression and Article (21) guaranteeing the Right to Peaceful Assembly of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by the Tunisian government in 1969; especially since the penalties depriving of freedom are not proportionate with the exercise of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, even if it violates the constitutional and international guarantees of this right, as stated in General Comment No. (34) of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights.

Euro-Med Monitor calls on the Tunisian authorities to respect the Tunisian Constitution and international obligations by halting their ongoing violations of human rights in the country, stopping restrictions on activists and human rights defenders, and prosecuting them, in addition to punishing public officials who commit these violations.

It also stresses the need to respect the will of the Tunisian people, the “source of sovereignty” in the state, as stated in Article Three of the Tunisian Constitution, through free and fair parliamentary elections, respecting its results in order to contribute to the stability of society on the political, social, and economic levels.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor calls on the international community, especially the member states of the European Union that cooperate with the Tunisian state and ignore the values of human dignity and the rule of law that they advocate for in exchange for political gains and anti-immigration issues, to push for the Tunisian authorities’ respect for human rights, human dignity, and the rule of law, in addition to relevant Tunisian constitutional guarantees and international obligations.