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UN denounces 'intimidation and harassment' of lawyers in Tunisia

By AFP

May 17, 2024 07:09 PM


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The United Nations on Friday denounced recent arrests of lawyers in Tunisia, saying the detentions, which have also included journalists and political commentators, undermined the rule of law in the North Africa country.

"Reported raids in the past week on the Tunisia Bar Association undermine the rule of law and violate international standards on the protection of the independence and function of lawyers," Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office, told reporters in Geneva.

"Such actions constitute forms of intimidation and harassment."

"UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk urges the authorities to respect and safeguard freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly," she said.

"Furthermore, the rule of law must be upheld, and those arbitrarily detained, including for defending the rights of migrants and for combating racial discrimination, released.

"The human rights of all migrants must be protected, and xenophobic hate speech must stop."

The arrests have sparked condemnations and an international backlash, which Tunisia's President Kais Saied has slammed as foreign "interference".

Tunisian civil society condemned the arrests as a crackdown on dissent in the country that saw the onset of the Arab Spring.

The European Union expressed concern this week over the arrests, while the United States said they contradicted the universal rights guaranteed by the country's constitution.

Saied, who seized sweeping powers in 2021, on Thursday ordered the foreign ministry to summon ambassadors of several countries and inform them that "Tunisia is an independent state", in a video released by his office.


AFP


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