Tunisia’s post-revolution achievements are in peril. Since President Saied’s power grab on 25 July 2021, Tunisian authorities have launched an escalating assault on the rule of law and human rights, undermining the rights to freedom of expression and association as well as fair trial rights. Authorities also trampled upon migrants, refugees and asylum seekers’ rights.
What is the problem?
High-profile Tunisian former parliamentarians and other political figures, journalists, human rights defenders, and activists have been targeted for opposing the president’s power grab and repression by his government. They have faced arbitrary arrests and detention, travel bans, and criminal investigations. Since 25 July 2021, courts have opened investigations and, in some cases, trials of at least 40 people for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, including under Decree-Law 54 which gives authorities wide powers to crackdown on freedom of expression. Authorities also ordered the pretrial detention of at least 23 individuals, including lawyers and politicians.
Furthermore, several restrictive draft laws amending Decree-Law 88, regulating civil society organizations, were leaked including a draft law submitted to the parliament in October 2023. Authorities have repeatedly made statements that vilified civil society organizations through accusations of corruption and treason stating that the law on associations must be replaced with a new one. Authorities also repeatedly undermined the independence of the judiciary through different measures including dissolving the High Judicial Council and arbitrarily dismissing 57 judges and prosecutors by presidential order.
Following President Saied’s discriminatory remarks in February 2023, hundreds of migrants and refugees were assaulted, evicted, or arbitrarily arrested in total impunity. Since July, security forces rounded up and conducted mass arbitrary expulsions of several thousands of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, including children, to Libya and Algeria. At least 28 people died in the desert region along the Libyan border between July and August.
What can you do to help?
Act now and urge the Tunisian authorities to immediately release all those arbitrarily detained, end the escalating crackdown on human rights including the rights to freedom of expression and association, uphold the rights of migrants and refugees, and refrain from compromising judicial independence.