Tunisian authorities continue to permit and encourage rights abuses under the guise of fighting terrorism and promoting national security, Amnesty International charges in a new report.
“The government portrays Tunisia as a country where the rule of law prevails, but that is far from the reality. In practice, the Tunisian authorities continue to carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions, allow torture and use unfair trials, all in the name of the fight against terrorism. This is the harsh reality behind the official rhetoric,” Malcom Smart, director of AI’s Middle East and North Africa Program said in a statement.
The report, “Tunisia, Continuing Abuses in the Name of Security” (pdf), details arrests, illegal detentions and the torture of prisoners, as well as gruesome homecomings for Tunisians that are forced to return from other countries. Authorities, AI charges, use broad anti-terrorism legislation to harass human rights defenders and quash political dissent through limits on freedoms of speech, assembly and association.
AI released a similar report on Tunisian abuses in June 2008 and called on authorities to improve the country’s record. This week’s report, AI said, proves Tunisian authorities — who rejected the initial report as lacking credibility — have yet to act.
AI also renewed calls on Western governments to halt forced repatriation of Tunisians, including 10 currently being held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.