The UN violates Tunisia for the arrest of the former Minister of Justice | Human rights news
The UN expresses its “serious concerns” about human rights violations in Tunisia and calls for the release or indictment of the detained official of Ennahdha.
The United Nations has expressed concern over human rights violations in Tunisia and demanded that a former justice minister detained in a crackdown on the Ennahdha party be charged or released.
Noureddine Bhiri, deputy and vice-president of Ennahdha, was taken in a car by plainclothes police on December 31 and held in secret places for several hours.
He was then charged with possible “terrorism” offenses.
The 63-year-old man, who suffers from several pre-existing health conditions including diabetes and hypertension, was transferred to hospital on January 2 after going on a hunger strike.
He remains in the hospital, where he is in guard.
Former Interior Ministry official Fathi Baldi was also arrested on December 31 under similar circumstances. His whereabouts were kept secret for several days.
Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, said on Tuesday that the obscure circumstances of the men’s detention had compounded “already serious UN concerns about the deterioration of the human rights situation “in Tunisia.
She said the arrests “echo practices not seen since [former President Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali era ”and urged the Tunisian authorities either to release quickly or to indict the couple.
Concerns about “stifling dissent”
Tunisia was the only democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, in which Ben Ali was ousted, along with a handful of other Arab leaders.
Ennahdha played a central role in the post-Ben Ali transition until a takeover by President Kais Saied in July of last year.
The party demanded Bhiri’s release and denounced his detention as an illegitimate attempt to silence the political opposition in the country.
Pledging to root out corruption, on July 25 last year Saied sacked the Ennahdha-backed government, suspended parliament – in which the party is the largest bloc – and then took steps to rule by decree.
His opponents and civil society groups have expressed fear of a return to authoritarianism by the Ben Ali regime.
Throssell said the UN was “concerned about the stifling of dissent in Tunisia, including the abuse of anti-terrorism legislation and the growing use of military courts to try civilians.”
But many Tunisians, tired of a system seen as corrupt and inefficient, hailed Saied’s actions.
Amid the international outcry, the Tunisian press union said on Tuesday that state television had banned all political parties from entering its buildings or participating in talk shows. The apparent ban has reportedly been in effect since Saied took over most of the power in July.
Envoys from seven Western countries and the European Union urged Tunisia last month to respect “fundamental freedoms” and set a timetable for a return to democratic institutions.
Saied reiterated that he respects all freedoms and rights and will not become a dictator.