For an international fact-finding commission

Press release
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For an international fact-finding commission

Paris, January 2011 – FIDH calls for an international fact-finding commission regarding the bloody repression of the demonstrations in Tunisia to be set up, whereas the situation continues to exacerbate and is likely to be brought before the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in an emergency assembly.
Meanwhile, the number of casualties is steadily increasing, the demonstrations continue, and the disproportionate use of violence, including the use of firearms by the police, seems to become a systematic practice.

The statement by the Head of State on 10 January 2011, in which he labelled the protest movement as “terrorist”, has obviously not brought the answers that the people of Tunisia would have expected. This morning’s announcement by the Prime Minister of the dismissal of the country’s Home Secretary and “the release of those who have been held in detention since the outbreak of the turmoil” should be noted. However, nothing seems to indicate that this, nor the deployment of armed forces in the capital, may be adequate measures to respond to the legitimate claims of the protesters.

FIDH is deeply concerned that this situation may continue to deteriorate, in a context where fundamental freedoms are systematically curtailed and where the perpetrators of human rights violations remain in complete impunity (see following link for the report entitled "Instrumentalisation de la justice en Tunisie : ingérence, violations et impunité").

The silencing of civil society, independent media and political parties leaves society with none of the conventional channels between the ruling power and the people. Lawyers and trade unionists have expensed exceptional efforts under these conditions, which should be acknowledged by the authorities. No opposition power is in a position to play the vital role of a safeguard that is necessary for any open and pluralist society.

Against this background, FIDH calls for an international fact-finding commission to be set up in order to establish the facts and the responsibilities in connection with the arbitrary crushing of the demonstrations. Those who are primarily responsible for the use of firearms against unarmed demonstrators should know that their acts will not remain unpunished. FIDH particularly calls upon the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on summary executions, freedom of opinion and expression, independence of the judiciary and human rights defenders to take every joint initiative deemed to be appropriate to this end.

In addition, FIDH calls for the suspension of the partnership negotiations between the European Union and Tunisia on the enhancement of the country’s status.

Finally, FIDH calls upon the partner governments of Tunisia to emphasise their concerns to the country’s leaders and to work towards the immediate termination of summary executions and a peaceful response to the legitimate claims of the Tunisian people, including the respect for human rights.

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