Human rights abuses in Tunisia continue despite denial
A former prisoner and alleged torture victim, whose case was cited in Amnesty International's recent report on human rights abuses in Tunisia, has been re-arrested. In what appears to be reprisal by the Tunisian authorities, Ziad Fakraoui was taken from his family home in Tunis on 25 June 2008, two days after the report’s publication. Two Tunisian defence lawyers have also been subjected to harassment by Tunisian police and security forces after they spoke at a Paris press conference to launch the report. The report, In the Name of Security: Routine Abuses in Tunisia, called on the Tunisian government to end human rights abuses while countering terrorism and hold its security forces to account. Ziad Fakraoui was re-arrested by men in civilian clothing who identified themselves as state security officials. He was detained incommunicado for seven days. On 2 July, his lawyers learnt that he was brought before an investigating judge on 28 June and charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and incitement to terrorism. These were the same charges for which he was arrested in 2005 and sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in December 2007, reduced to three years on appeal in May 2008. He was released on 24 May as having already served his sentence. He is currently detained in Mornaguia prison some 15km east of Tunis. His family was able to visit him. His lawyers are yet to be allowed to meet with him. The two Tunisian lawyers and human rights defenders, Samir Dilou and Anouar Kousri, who described their experience as defence lawyers at the press conference on 23 June, were harassed by security officials when they returned to Tunis. They were held for up to two hours at Tunis airport by security officials who searched them and their luggage. Subsequently, police visited their homes and told them that they should report to a police station without giving them a reason why. Police questioned them about their participation in the Amnesty International press conference and accused them of circulating false information and harming Tunisia’s image abroad. Samir Dilou was threatened with prosecution if he continues such activities. Amnesty International has urged the Tunisian government to grant Ziad Fakraoui immediate and regular access to his lawyer and to ensure that he is not tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention. The organization has also called on the Tunisian government to give him regular access to his family and any medical treatment he may require and to promptly charge him with a recognizably criminal offence and bring him before a court in fair proceedings or to release him. Amnesty International has also called on the Tunisian government to end the practice of illegal detention in Tunisia and the harassment of Samir Dilou, Anouar Kousri and other human rights defenders.