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Tunisia: Further information: Increased torture risk for Tunisian prisoner

, Index number: MDE 30/001/2011

Ramzi Romdhani, who is serving a 29-year prison sentence, has been denied family visits since 18 November 2010 as a disciplinary measure. He has repeatedly reported being tortured and otherwise ill-treated while in detention, and is believed to now be at heightened risk of abuse.

Further information on UA: 130/09 Index: MDE 30/001/2011 Tunisia Date: 7 January 2011
URGENT ACTION
INCREASED TORTURE RISK FOR TUNISIAN PRISONER
Ramzi Romdhani, who is serving a 29-year prison sentence, has been denied family visits since
18 November 2010 as a disciplinary measure. He has repeatedly reported being tortured and
otherwise ill-treated while in detention, and is believed to now be at heightened risk of abuse.
When Ramzi Romdhani’s family last saw him in Mornaguia Prison in November, he told them that he had been
tortured and severely beaten on his ear and that he had been taken to hospital for treatment. When Ramzi
Romdhani’s family tried to visit him the following week, on 25 November, they were told that he had been
transferred to Messaidine Prison in Sousse around 150 kilometres from Tunis, where his family live. One of Ramzi
Romdhani’s relatives travelled to visit him the following day, but was informed that Ramzi Romdhani was subject to
disciplinary measures which prevent him from receiving family visits.
They prison authorities have continued to prevent Ramzi Romdhani’s family from seeing him. Every time they visit
the prison, they are told to leave as he is still being disciplined. His family last tried to visit him on 5 January. The
Messaidine prison authorities have also refused to take the food and clothes that Ramzi Romdhani’s family have
brought for him. The continued prohibition on visiting Ramzi Romdhani is in breach of the Tunisian law on prisons,
which states that such a ban may not last more than 15 days (Law No. 2001-52, Article 22). Continued denial of
family visits sparks fears that he is at an increased risk of torture or other ill-treatment in prison.
Ramzi Romdhani’s family have written letters to the Tunisian authorities, including the Minister of Justice, the
Sousse Public Prosecutor and the Prison Director, asking them to be allowed to visit him but have had no answer.
Ramzi Romdhani was arrested in April 2007 and is now serving a sentence totalling 29 years in prison, imposed
under anti-terrorism legislation in nine separate cases. He has previously alleged that he was tortured and otherwise
ill-treated on at least three occasions: in April 2009, August 2009 and December 2009 (see original UA and follow-
ups), but to date the Tunisian authorities have failed to conduct an independent investigation, as required under
international law.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in Arabic, French or your own language:
Expressing concern that Ramzi Romdhani has been denied family visits since 18 November 2010, in violation of
Tunisian law;
Asking the reasons for this, and urging that he be permitted to receive regular family visits without delay;
Calling on the Tunisian authorities to treat him humanely, and not torture or otherwise ill-treat him;
Calling for an urgent thorough, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that Ramzi Romdhani has
been tortured, and for any officials found responsible to be brought to justice;
Demanding that they ensure Ramzi Romdhani has access to the medical care he needs.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 18 FEBRUARY 2011 TO:
Minister of Justice and Human Rights
Lazhar Bououni
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
31 Boulevard Bab Benat
1006 Tunis La Kasbah
Fax: + 216 71 568 106
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Interior
Rafik Belhaj Kacem
Ministry of Interior and Local
Development
Avenue Habib Bourguiba
1000 Tunis
Fax: +216 71 340 888
Salutation: Your Excellency
And copies to:
Directeur général des prisons et de la
rééducation
Rue 8003 Appartement L
Espace de Tunis
Monplaisir, Tunis
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above
date. This is the third update of UA 130/09 (MDE 30/004/2009). Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE30/004/2009/en
and http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE30/001/2010/en
Date: 7 January 2011
URGENT ACTION
INCREASED TORTURE RISK FOR TUNISIAN PRISONER
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
On 31 December 2009, Ramzi Romdhani told his brother that he was tortured on 24 and 25 December after he had been
transferred to the Department of State Security (DSS) of the Ministry of Interior in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, from Mornaguia
Prison. He said he was tortured for two days and interrogated in connection with other cases. He told his brother that he was
beaten, had his nails and fingers burned and that his head was plunged repeatedly in hot water for about 30 minutes. He said he
was beaten on his eyes and sustained serious eye injuries. During the visit, his brother was able to observe several bruises on his
body and burn marks on his fingers.
In April 2009, Ramzi Romdhani is reported to have been tortured and otherwise ill-treated by officers at Mornaguia Prison, by
guards who beat him with sticks, kicked him while wearing military boots, inflicted cigarette burns on his body, and plunged his
head repeatedly into a bucket of water causing him to fear drowning and eventually to lose consciousness.
In August 2009, he alleges that he was beaten by prison guards and then taken to the DSS, where he was tortured, including
with electric shocks, suspension and simulation of hanging.
In December 2009, the prison doctor at Mornaguia told Ramzi Romdhani that he required surgery to safeguard his sight but it is
not known whether this has been provided. He is reported to have sustained serious eye injuries while detained for interrogation
by officials of the Department of State Security of the Ministry of Interior in Tunis.
His brother was arrested on 18 January 2010 at his home by eight DSS officers and detained incommunicado until 20 January,
when he was released uncharged. His arrest is believed to have been linked to his efforts to expose and publicize the torture and
other ill-treatment of Ramzi Romdhani, including his contacts with human rights lawyers and local and international human
rights organizations.
Amnesty International has received numerous reports of torture and other ill-treatment by the Tunisian security forces. In virtually
all cases, allegations of torture are not investigated and the perpetrators are not brought to justice. Individuals are most at risk of
torture when held incommunicado. The most commonly reported methods of torture are beatings on the body, especially the soles
of the feet; suspension by the ankles or in contorted positions; electric shocks; and burning with cigarettes. There are also reports
of mock executions, sexual abuse, including rape with bottles and sticks, and threats of sexual abuse of female relatives.
Tunisia is a state party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and
the Tunisian authorities are under an obligation to prevent torture and to “ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a
prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in
any territory under its jurisdiction.”
Tunisia’s anti-terrorism legislation has been repeatedly criticized by UN human rights bodies and local and international human
rights organizations as overly general and broad, and could be used as a repressive measure to curtail legitimate dissent. Similar
concerns were reiterated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in March 2008 in its concluding observations regarding
Tunisia and by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while
countering terrorism following his visit to Tunisia in January 2010.
Further information on UA: 130/09 Index: MDE 30/001/2011 Issue Date: 7 January 2011

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