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Tunisia: Fear of torture or ill-treatment / probable prisoners of conscience / fear of arrest as POC

, Index number: MDE 30/023/1996

Mohamed Tahar Barhoumi, student, Lotfi Hammami, student, Bourhan Gasmi, Tahar Gargoura, Abdel Moumen Belanes: Mohamed Tahar Barhoumi, Lotfi Hammami and Bourhan Gasmi are being held incommunicado in secret detention and there are fears that they may be facing torture or ill-treatment. AI is also concerned that they may be prisoners of conscience and that the two other men, whose homes have been visited by the security forces, may be in danger of arrest.

EXTERNAL AI Index: MDE 30/23/96
UA 208/96 Fear of torture or ill-treatment / Probable
prisoners of conscience / Fear of arrest as POC 22 August 1996
TUNISIAMohamed Tahar BARHOUMI, student
Lotfi HAMMAMI, student
Bourhan GASMI
Tahar Gargoura
Abdel Moumen Belanes
Mohamed Tahar Barhoumi, Lotfi Hammami and Bourhan Gasmi, arrested in recent
days, are being held incommunicado in secret detention and there are fears
that they may be facing torture or ill-treatment. Amnesty International is
also concerned that they may be prisoners of conscience, and that two other
men, whose homes have recently been visited by the security forces, may be
in danger of arrest and detention as prisoners of conscience.
Mohamed Tahar Barhoumi was arrested on 14 or 15 August and Lotfi Hammami was
arrested during the night of 17 August from his home. Both are second year
students in philosophy at Tunis University; Lotfi Hammami was previously
detained and tortured in 1991. Bourhan Gasmi is reported to have been arrested
during the night of 17 August in Tunis; he was previously imprisoned as a prisoner
of conscience in 1987, and was subsequently sentenced in absentia in 1992 to
two years and two months imprisonment for supporting an unauthorized left-wing
political group, the Tunisian Workers' Communist Party (Parti communiste des
ouvriers tunisiens), PCOT. He had been in hiding since then.
During the nights of 17 and 18 August 1996 members of the security forces went
to the homes of Tahar Gargoura and Abdel Moumen Belanes and it is feared that
they are also at risk of arrest. Both have been detained before as prisoners
of conscience: Tahar Gargoura in November 1994 and Abdel Moumen Belanes in
November 1995, when he was badly tortured in the Ministry of the Interior (see
UA 271/95, MDE 30/30/95, 8 December 1995 and follow-ups on 11 January, 9 April,
and 23 April 1996).
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Arrests of individuals known or suspected of supporting or sympathizing with
unauthorized political opposition groups, or of being critical of the
government, continue to be widespread in Tunisia. Detainees are routinely
subjected to torture and ill-treatment, especially in the days following arrest
when they are held incommunicado in secret detention, often in the Ministry
of the Interior itself. Complaints of torture and ill-treatment are
systematically ignored: in the past six years not a single case of torture
or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated and none of those responsible
are known to have been brought to justice. The vast majority of those detained
are prisoners of conscience who have not used or advocated violence.
Amnesty International has continued to document and condemn such human rights
violations in Tunisia, and to call on the Tunisian authorities to take concrete
steps to put an end to such practices. However, despite the Tunisian
Government's rhetoric about its commitment to respecting human rights, no
concrete action has been taken to address these concerns.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French, Arabic, English or your own language:
2
- expressing concern at the arrest of Mohamed Tahar Barhoumi, Lotfi Hammami
and Bourhan Gasmi, and asking where they are being held;
- urging that they be allowed immediate access to their families and lawyers
and to medical examination and medical care if necessary;
- seeking assurances that they are not being tortured of ill-treated;
- calling for their immediate and unconditional release if they are detained
as prisoners of conscience;
- noting that members of the security forces have visited the homes of Tahar
Gargoura and Abdel Moumen Belanes, and seeking assurances that the two men
will not be detained as prisoners of conscience.
APPEALS TO:
1) Minister of Justice
M. Sadok Chaâbane
Ministre de la Justice
Ministère de la Justice
Boulevard Bab Benat
Tunis
Tunisia
Faxes: +216 1 568 106
Telexes: 13000 maet tn (via Ministère de l'Intérieur)
Telegrams: Ministre de la Justice Chaâbane, Tunis, Tunisie
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Your Excellency
2) Minister of the Interior
M. Mohamed Jegham
Ministre de l'Intérieur
Ministère de l'Intérieur
Av. Habib Bourguiba
Tunis
Tunisia
Faxes: +216 1 340888
telexes: 13662 sdap tn
Telegrams: Ministre de l'Interieur, Tunis, Tunisia
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Your Excellency
COPIES TO:
Tunisian Human Rights League
Me Taoufik Bouderbala, Président
Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme, LTDH
21 Rue Imam el Bakri
1002 TUNIS Belvedere
Tunisia
and to diplomatic representatives of TUNISIA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 30 September 1996.

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