Tunisia Human Rights

Amnesty International's Agenda for Change

The situation in Tunisia has changed dramatically since the original CAP action was issued on 11 January 2011. The rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been brought to an end by a wave of popular protest. Tunisians are now looking to a caretaker government to begin to restore faith in the country's national institutions, including the security forces.

In the coming days, Amnesty International will issue an agenda for human rights change addressed to the caretaker government in Tunis. The agenda makes a series of detailed recommendations on human rights reform. In particular, it calls on the Tunisian authorities:

  • to rein in the security forces;
  • to condemn torture and other ill-treatment;
  • to uphold freedoms of expression, association and assembly; and
  • to reform the administration of justice

The organization will also be making other recommendations to the Tunisian authorities, including on economic, social and cultural rights and discrimination against women.

Good News

"I would like to thank all the members of Amnesty International who campaigned for my release. I joined Amnesty International not only because of my convictions but also because it stood with me during my trial."    – Fahem Boukadous, former prisoner of conscience.

Amnesty International has welcomed an announcement by Tunisia's caretaker government that it has freed political prisoners detained during the rule of recently ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Among those released on Wednesday were two Amnesty International prisoners of conscience – journalist Fahem Boukadous and activist Hassan Ben Abdallah.

Human Rights Concerns

Overcrowding in prisons and discriminatory treatment of political prisoners continued to be reported. There was continuing concern about lack of medical care, poor hygiene, torture and ill treatment in prisons.

At least 15 people were charged under the new "anti-terrorism" law introduced in December 2003. Concerns persisted about the law, which allows for the extension of pre-trial detention for an undefined period and lacks safeguards in relation to people facing extradition to countries where they could face serious human rights violations.

The authorities gave no reason for withholding recognition from several human rights organizations that had been asking to be legalized for several years. Among these organizations are the International Association for the Support of Political Prisoners, the Association to Combat Torture in Tunisia and the National Council for Liberties. Members of such non-governmental organizations reported harassment and intimidation by the police.

Restrictions on freedom of expression, including access to information, and on exercise of the rights to freedom of association and assembly are not the only human rights issues in Tunisia that are of concern to Amnesty International. As the organization has documented in a succession of annual reports, it remains concerned too about long-standing abuse of detention powers, particularly by the security forces, by holding suspects incommunicado and without legal counsel beyond the limits allowed by law, and reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees. In addition, many prisoners, particularly real or suspected members of Tunisia's domestic Islamist movement, have been sentenced to heavy prison terms after grossly unfair trials. A number of them went repeatedly on hunger strikes to protest against their sentences and the continuing ill-treatment that they face in prison.