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    March 05, 2014

    Last night’s release of Jabeur Mejri, a prisoner of conscience who spent two years in prison for publishing online articles and cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, is long overdue and must be followed by the authorities quashing his sentence and conviction, said Amnesty International.

    The organization had campaigned heavily for his release, including as part of its annual Write for Rights campaign in December 2013.

    “Jabeur Mejri’s release is a huge relief for his family and a victory for all the activists who have campaigned on his behalf across the globe. Putting him behind bars for two years for the images he posted online was a travesty that risked crushing all hope of genuine progress on freedom of expression in post-Ben Ali Tunisia,” said Philip Luther, Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    October 08, 2013

    After years of uncertainty, the full facts in the iconic case of Faysal Baraket, a Tunisian student who died in police custody in 1991, are coming to light, bringing an end to years of denial and deception by the Tunisian authorities, said Amnesty International.

    A report published on the 22nd anniversary of his death details the ordeal faced by his family in their quest for truth and justice and the organization’s lengthy campaign to challenge the authorities’ claim that the 25 year-old died in a car accident rather than being tortured to death.  

    “Faysal Baraket’s case underscores how the security forces for years tortured dissenting voices then denied it and covered it up, as well as the urgent need to reform the security apparatus and judiciary which played a central role in how the case was handled,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    July 29, 2013

    Today’s decision by a Tunisian court to dismiss a defamation case against the 18-year-old FEMEN activist Amina Sboui is only a partial victory, Amnesty International said as it called for her release.

    Amina was arrested on 19 May after writing the word “Femen” – the name of an international network of feminist activists famous for staging topless protests – on a cemetery wall in Kairouan in central Tunisia.  Held since then, she has faced an array of charges including defamation, insulting a civil servant and desecrating a cemetery.

    “Imprisoning anyone for expressing themselves is inherently disproportionate. The fact that Amina has already spent two months in prison is an indictment of the state of free expression in Tunisia,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “We believe the case against her constitutes a politically motivated attack on her right to freedom of expression and that she should be released.”

    July 25, 2013

    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.

    The leader of the Tunisian leftist opposition party the Popular Current (Courant Populaire, El Tayyar El Chaabi), was also a member of the National Constituent Assembly and a critical voice against the ruling party Ennahda.

    His murder, 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, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program 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.  

    June 13, 2013

    Yesterday’s prison sentences against three activists from FEMEN, an international women’s movement known for staging topless protests, in Tunisia are an unacceptable restriction on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today. 

    The women, two French nationals, Marguerite Stern and Pauline Hillier, and one German, Josephine Markmann, were arrested on 29 May as they protested bare-chested in front of the Tunis Court building, demanding the release of a Tunisian FEMEN activist arrested days earlier.

    They were convicted of public indecency, undermining public morals, and making noise disturbing peace, and sentenced to four months and one day in prison. The three women intend to appeal their conviction.

    "Imprisoning people for expression is inherently disproportionate,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    International human rights law allows limitations to the right to freedom of expression, but only for a legitimate aim and through the least restrictive means possible.

    June 05, 2013

    On 1 June, Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) received the latest draft of the country’s Constitution and is expected to vote on it soon.

    Amnesty International has reviewed the latest version amended following discussions among political parties and found that – while there are some improvements over the drafts circulated in August and December 2012 and April 2013 – the text still undermines tenets of international human rights law. It includes restrictions of some basic rights such as the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and to freedom of movement, as well as providing insufficient guarantees for the independence of the judiciary and to protect against torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

    If the entire draft Constitution is not approved by two thirds of the NCA, it will eventually be put to a national referendum.

    Amnesty International has published an analysis of the latest draft and has experts available for comment.

    May 31, 2013

    A 19-year-old Tunisian activist for the FEMEN network is facing further accusations after having been convicted and fined on Thursday for the possession of a self-defence spray.

    Amina Sboui – who has also been known as Amina Tyler – was remanded in custody yesterday on accusations of desecrating a cemetery, belonging to a criminal organization and undermining public morals, offences which carry punishments of several years' imprisonment under the Tunisian Penal Code.

    The charges she faces appear to stem from her having written the word "FEMEN" on a wall surrounding a cemetery in Kairouan on 19 May, the day when Ansar al Charia, a Salafist group that opposes equality for women, had called a rally for its supporters in the city.

    Amina Sboui was arrested outside the cemetery and charged with possession of a self-defence spray – for which she was convicted and fined 300 Tunisian dinars (about US$184).

    She is due to be interrogated by the investigative judge on 5 June for the new accusations.

    May 28, 2013

    The trial of a blogger before a military court in Tunisia after he peacefully expressed his opinion on the internet is worrying evidence of the state of freedom of expression in the country, said Amnesty International.

    The trial against Hakim Ghanmi begins on 29 May in Sfax Military Court, in south-eastern Tunisia.

    Amnesty International is calling for charges against him to be dropped as he appears to be prosecuted solely for peacefully expressing his views about the treatment of patients in a military hospital by the hospital director.

    Ghanmi is being charged with “undermining the reputation of the army”, “defamation of a public official” and “disturbing others through public communication networks” after he published a letter to the Minister of Defence on his blog Warakat Tounsia in April 2013. In the letter, he complained about the actions of the director of the military hospital in Gabes.

    April 26, 2013

     

    The upholding of a sentence against a blogger jailed for “insulting Islam” is yet another blow to freedom of expression in Tunisia, Amnesty International said.

    Jabeur Mejri's conviction was today upheld by the Court of Cassation.

    The blogger was sentenced in March 2012 to seven and a half years in prison and a fine of 1,200 Tunisian Dinars – US$757 - after a court in Mahdia, eastern Tunisia, deemed posts he made online insulting to Islam and Muslims.

    “There’s no reason for the Tunisian authorities to keep Jabeur Mejri imprisoned,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “He must be immediately and unconditionally released and the authorities must urgently reform articles of the Penal Code that restrict freedom of expression."

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations, 416-363-9933 ext 332

    March 13, 2013

    Tunisia should mark its national day of internet freedom on 13 March by releasing immediately and unconditionally 28-year-old blogger Jabeur Meiri, who has been in prison for more than a year, Amnesty International said.

    “It’s ironic that on 13 March last year, President Moncef Marzouki was giving a speech honouring bloggers while, at the same time, a court was trying Jabeur Mejri for his online posts,” said Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    Mejri was arrested on 5 March 2012 and sentenced on 28 March to seven and a half years in prison and a fine of 1200 Tunisian Dinars – US$757 - after a court in Mahdia, eastern Tunisia, deemed posts he made online insulting to Islam and Muslims.

    On 23 June 2012 the Monastir Court of Appeal upheld the conviction and his sentence. His lawyers then took the case to the Court of Cassation, which is still due to rule on the case.

    February 06, 2013

    The killing today of Tunisian opposition politician, Chokri Belaid, outside his home must prompt a thorough, independent and impartial investigation by the Tunisian authorities, Amnesty International has said.

    Chokri Belaid, a leading figure of the leftist opposition in Tunisia, was shot in the neck and head as he was leaving his home in Tunis this morning. He was the Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots party, and a vocal critic of the government. He denounced political violence and called for democratic values to be upheld in Tunisia.

    It is the first time that such a killing has taken place in Tunisia. So far, no one has claimed responsibility.

    Chokri Belaid’s death has occurred in a context of increasing polarization between political parties in Tunisia. Members of the opposition have reported they are targeted in attacks by individuals and that the authorities are not doing enough to protect them.

    January 22, 2013

    Two activists in Tunisia, who face charges in relation to their drawing of graffiti last November, must not be jailed for exercising their freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    Oussama Bouajila, aged 25, and Chahine Berrich, 23, from the anti-poverty street art group Zwewla (“the poor”) are charged with “spreading false information with the aim of disrupting the public order”, “defying the state of emergency” and “writing on a public building without permission”.

    They were charged in November after they were caught writing slogans in support of the poor on a university wall in the city of Gabes, in the south east of Tunisia.

    “These men should not be penalized for what their graffiti said. It is unjustifiable to threaten them with prison terms simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    Both men could face up to five years each in prison if convicted. Their trial, which was postponed in December, resumes on Wednesday 23 January.

    November 08, 2012

    One year after protesters ended the repressive rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisians are still waiting for their human rights to be guaranteed.

    A National Constituent Assembly (NCA) was elected in October to write a new constitution for Tunisia. Amnesty International is calling on it to ensure that the constitution includes the basic guarantees that would protect Tunisians from the abuses they suffered under Ben Ali: human rights violations like torture, arbitrary arrests and unfair trials.

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