POLITICAL ACTIVISTS UNJUSTLY DETAINED
Since February 2023, Tunisian authorities have opened criminal investigations against at least 21 people including political opposition activists, lawyers, and businessmen on unfounded accusations of conspiracy. Authorities are currently detaining at least nine people under this investigation including opposition figures Chaima Issa and Jaouhar Ben Mbarek as well as politician Khayam Turki. Tunisia’s anti-terrorism court is investigating them under 10 articles of the Penal Code – including Article 72, which mandates the death penalty for trying to “change the nature of the state”. We call on the Tunisian authorities to drop the charges against Chaima Issa, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and Khayam Turki and immediately release them as they are detained for exercising their human rights through activism.
- Please take action as-soon-as possible. This Urgent Action expires on July 17, 2023.
- Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to the government official listed below. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
- Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 52.23. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.
President of the Republic Kais Saied
Route de la Goulette
Site archéologique de Carthage, Tunisie
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Hanan Al-Tajouri with Al-Sassi
Embassy of Tunisia
1515 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
E-Mail: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 862-1850
I write to you to express concern over the investigation and detention of opposition figures Chaima Issa, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and politician Khayam Turki. Their arrest stems from the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, to peaceful assembly, and to association all of which are protected under international human rights law binding on Tunisia.
Chaima Issa, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and Khayam Turki are being investigated in relation to trumped up charges of conspiracy under 10 articles of the Tunisian Penal Code including Article 72, which mandates the death penalty for trying to “change the nature of the state”. They also face a dozen charges under a 2015 counterterrorism law including Article 32, which mandates up to 20 years of imprisonment for “forming a terrorist organization” according to judicial investigation files leaked online and authenticated by defense lawyers. None of the three have been involved in acts that would amount to recognizable crimes under international law, and the charges against them are therefore unfounded.
Security forces searched the houses of the three defendants and seized phones, laptops and written political essays and documentation. The defendants were not allowed access to lawyers during the first 48 hours as per the counter-terrorism law under which they are detained.
Chaima Issa, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and Khayam Turki’s arrest and investigation violates articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights related to the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association respectively and ratified by Tunisia.
I urge you to immediately release Chaima Issa, Jaouhar Ben Mbarek and Khayam Turki and drop all charges against them.