The human rights situation in Tunisia represents a great concern for the International Jurists Union (IJU), since late July.
Necati Ceylan, the general secretary of the IJU, called on the Tunisian authorities to respect their international obligations.
The union was citing a Dec. 31 incident in which security agents in civilian clothes intercepted the car of a former justice minister and the deputy chairman of the Ennahdha party, Noureddine Bhairi, and his wife as well as the arrest of Fathi Al-Baldi, who worked for the Interior Ministry.
These incidents happened after Tunisian President Kais Saied ousted the government on July 25 last year, suspended parliament and assumed executive authority. While he insists that his “exceptional measures” are meant to “save” the country, critics have accused him of orchestrating a coup.
Bhairi’s lawyer wife, Saida Akremi, later said that she and her husband were subjected to verbal and physical abuse and her husband was taken to an unknown destination.
On Monday, Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine accused Bhairi of being involved in terrorism-related activities for allegedly issuing false identity documents to a Syrian couple while he was serving as justice minister, with one of the individuals previously linked to terrorist cases committed outside Tunisian territory.
The Ennahdha party, the largest party in the now suspended Tunisian parliament, said the accusations against Bhairi are “politicized” and called for his immediate release, holding President Saied and Charfeddine responsible for his well-being.
The IJU reminds the country that “no person should be subjected to enforced disappearance or detained in an unknown location according to the international agreements signed by Tunisia and which do not allow any exceptional circumstance to be invoked, including internal political instability,” Ceylan said.
Urging the Tunisian authorities to “immediately release” Bhairi, especially due to health conditions, and Al-Baldi, he also called for “preserving the dignity and rights of the detainees and opening an investigation into these incidents, especially as the judicial authorities confirmed being unaware of the matter.”
“It is important to obtain testimonies of witnesses of the forced disparate and arbitrary detention and to enable victims to have access to the information or reasons for their arrest,” he added.
The general secretary also said that the IJU seeks to send a human rights delegation to meet with state officials and follow the enforced disappearance file and discuss the trial of civilians before military courts.
The Tunisian judiciary on Wednesday referred 19 people to trial for “election violations,” including the head of the Ennahda movement, Rachid Ghannouchi, and former President Moncef Marzouki.
According to a statement issued by the Information and Communication Office of the Court of First Instance, the defendants were referred “for committing electoral crimes during the 2019 elections such as the use of illegal electoral propaganda through social media and propaganda during the electoral silence period.”
The individuals referred also include Nabil Karoui, the head of the Heart of Tunisia party and a presidential candidate for the 2019 elections, and former Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zubaidi.
They also include four former prime ministers: Youssef Chahed, Elyes Fakhfakh, Mehdi Jomaa and Hamadi Jebali.