Joint press release: Denouncement of the violent repression of the social justice movement in Tunisia; international Human Rights organisations call for a strong reaction by the international community

24/01/2011
Press release
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Joint press release: Denouncement of the violent repression of the social justice movement in Tunisia; international Human Rights organisations call for a strong reaction by the international community

13th January 2011 - Our organisations, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights network, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and “Reporters without Borders” express their deepest concern about the drastic escalation of the situation in Tunisia, characterised by an unprecedented violent and blind repression of a nationwide demonstration movement against social injustice, corruption, the denial of fundamental freedoms and the right to dignity.
Our organisations most firmly denounce the grave disproportionate and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the authorities against those demonstrations. We particularly denounce the use of firearms against unarmed civilians by the police force, which has already caused several dozen casualties, hundreds of arbitrary arrests, as well as the repeated use of ill-treatment and torture.

Our organisations have persistently denounced the deterioration of the human rights situation in Tunisia ever since the Presidential and Parliamentary elections of October 2009, and firmly call upon the European Union (EU) to draw the consequences of the failure on the part of the Tunisian government to comply with its international obligations, particularly with respect to the freedoms of expression, association and assembly. We also particularly regret the lack of a quick and appropriate reaction on the part of the EU, whereas it is currently in the process of negotiating a strengthening of its relations with Tunisia by granting it “advanced status” within the framework of a political partnership approach.

The blatant violations of international law committed by the Tunisian authorities cannot be ignored by the EU and its member states, and our affiliates call upon the EU to formally denounce these violations.

In this context, our organisations call upon the international community, and the United Nations (UN) and the EU in particular, to adopt a firm stance vis-à-vis the Tunisian authorities in order to enforce their compliance with joint Human Rights obligations, and to call upon Tunisia for:

·the respect for the freedom of peaceful assembly, and particularly an immediate end to the escalation of violence and termination of the use of firearms against demonstrators by the police;

· the immediate and unconditional release of all persons, above all human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, bloggers, trade union activists and prominent political figures who have been arbitrarily detained during the course of the demonstrations, and the immediate termination of all acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment;

· an independent and impartial national fact-finding commission to be set up in order to investigate human rights violations, including the cases of extra-judicial executions and arbitrary arrests, as well as to identify the perpetrators of these acts and bring them to justice, if necessary, with compensation to the victims and/or their families;

· the lifting of the ban on Tunisian and foreign media, in order to enable their coverage of the events;

· the respect for international human rights obligations to which Tunisia is a signatory, with the immediate and unreserved invitation of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on torture; independence of judges and lawyers, freedom of expression, human rights defenders and extra-judicial executions.

In addition, our organisations call upon the international community to establish an independent international fact-finding commission under the leadership of the United Nations; and upon the EU for the suspension of negotiations for an “advanced status” between the EU and Tunisia until such time as actual and tangible progress will effectively have been made by the Tunisian government in the area of respect for Human Rights, particularly with respect to the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as multi-party democracy and a pluralist trade union movement, respect for the independence of civil society organisations, independence of the judicial system, lifting of the censure of the Internet and release of prisoners of conscience – these advances must also be subject to an evaluation by independent experts.

It is vital that the Tunisian government should respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that it should renounce any recourse to measures that may lead to a further increase in violence. Failing this, there will be no end to the present crisis.

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