Justice Needed in Tunisia after Second Political Murder This Year

Press Release
July 25, 2013

Justice Needed in Tunisia after Second Political Murder This Year

Contact: Sharon Singh, ssingh@aiusa.org, 202-675-8579, @AIUSAmedia

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Tunisian authorities must deliver justice to stem a worrying tide of political violence, Amnesty International said after Mohamed Brahmi was shot dead outside his home in Tunis today. Brahmi was the leader of the Tunisian leftist opposition party the Popular Current (Courant Populaire, El Tayyar El Chaabi), a member of the National Constituent Assembly, and a critical voice against the current ruling party Ennahda.

His murder, which occurred on the anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Tunisia, comes just months after another opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, was shot dead in February – sending shockwaves through Tunisian society and prompting the resignation of the then-Prime Minister.

“The targeting of a member of the National Constituent Assembly is a blow to the rule of law in Tunisia,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Amnesty International. “A truly independent and impartial investigation into the killing must be immediately opened. Delivering justice for these two killings and other violent attacks against individuals must be an urgent priority in Tunisia.”

So far, little has been done by authorities to ensure that attacks against members of the opposition are thoroughly investigated and those responsible are brought to justice – fueling a climate of impunity and increasing political polarization. There is an ongoing judicial investigation into Belaid’s murder, with some suspects in custody, but no one has yet been tried for the crime.

“The Tunisian authorities have a duty to protect all individuals, including those who criticize the government or Tunisia’s leading Ennahda party, from violence, and to act against individuals and groups who commit acts of violence, regardless of their affiliation,” said Hadj Sahraoui. “As Tunisians take to the streets to protest Mohamed Brahmi’s killing, we urge the security forces to refrain from unnecessary or excessive use of force and to ensure that people can express their views peacefully and freely.”

The Tunisian authorities have failed to respond to Amnesty International’s request for clarification about the steps taken to dismantle groups linked to attacks against politicians or dissenting voices.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists, and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.