No congress for the LTDH

21/09/2005
Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its dismay following the verdict issued by the Tunis Court of First Instance against the Tunisian Human Rights League (Ligue tunisienne de défense des droits de l’Homme - LTDH), on Monday, September 5, 2005.

This judgement orders the League to « suspend the Congress session » planned for September 9-11, 2005, as well as « all preparatory works aiming to facilitate the session, at that time or at any other time, and until the definitive judgment is renderedin the procedure on the substance opened before the Tunis Court of First Instance (...) with an immediate enforcement ».
The summons which was issued on September 1, 2005, steems from an initiative of 22 persons stating their affiliation to the LTDH but also known to be affilied to the Democratic Constitutional Rally (Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique - RCD), the ruling party.
During the summary hearing on September 2, 2005, postponed to September 5, 2005 following a demand from the defence, Mrs. Odile Sidem Poulain, lawyer registered with the Bar of Hauts de Seine, and appointed by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (an FIDH and World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) joint programme) to attend to the hearing of September 2, was not allowed to have access to the Court under the pretext of her foreign nationality. Members of the LTDH steering committee who are not lawyers met with the same refusal.
This new court decision, which aims to penalize activities carried out with determination for the human rights defence for 30 years by the first affiliated league to the FIDH in the region, is in keeping with the continuity of various actions started by Tunisian authorities in order to silent those who dare to recall them their duties to the Tunisian people. Since its creation in 1977, the LTDH has been subjected to about thirty court decision. The last is « a decision as shameful as unacceptable and counter-productive », protests Sidiki Kaba, President of the FIDH..
« This new condemnation of freedom of association reinforces our deepest concern regarding to the lack of flagrant will from the Tunisian authorities to respect their international commitments in the context of the preparation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that they will welcome in November. The decision to cancel the Congress of the League is more eloquent than any speech», added the President of the FIDH.
The FIDH expresses its deepest condemnation of such measures and practices which prove once again the instrumentalization of the judicial system with a view of preventing the free execution of fundamental freedoms in Tunisia. The FIDH also deplores that the Tunisian authorities once more did not allow the democratic enforcement within the organisations of the Tunisian civil society.
The FIDH reiterates its full support to the LTDH, which action conforms with the articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Tunisia in March 1969 and which guarantee respectively the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association with others; and with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

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