Tunisia: President’s Repressive Policies Abrogate Rights

Arbitrary and politically motivated acts of repression have proliferated in Tunisia since July 25, 2021, when President Kais Saied suspended parliament, Human Rights Watch said today. He also lifted parliamentary immunity, dismissed the head of government, and took control of the office of the public prosecutor.

Three parliament members have been imprisoned for speech offenses, and at least 50 Tunisians have been placed under arbitrary house arrests, including former officials, a judge, and three lawmakers. Dozens of other Tunisians have faced arbitrary travel bans, violating their freedom of movement.

On August 23, Said extended the extraordinary powers he had accorded himself indefinitely. He has neither reopened parliament nor appointed a new head of government and has claimed that these measures would not imperil Tunisians’ human rights.

“President Saied’s reassurances on human rights sound hollow when he concentrates power in his own hands, parliamentarians and other Tunisians suddenly start facing arbitrary restrictions on their freedom, and some are packed off to prison,” said Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

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