Tunisian authorities must respect and protect the right to freedom of assembly and of expression of everyone in Tunisia, the ICJ said today.
They also must regulate the use of force against protestors according to international law standards, and ensure that those who are arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, including as a result of the legitimate and peaceful exercise of these rights, are immediately released, the ICJ added.
Over the past week, protesters took to the streets challenging the government’s recentausterity measures, including a rise in prices and tax increases.
Sporadic cases of violence, looting and vandalism occurred, including incidents that targeted police stations.
Over 800 people were subsequently arrested. Further, one protestor died on Monday 8 January 2018 in Tebourba, 30km west of Tunis.
“The acts of sporadic violence committed by a few people do not justify the scale or character of interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly of others,” said Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“The Tunisian authorities must immediately release those arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of assembly, and provide due process guarantees to those allegedly responsible for punishable acts,” he added.
In policing public assemblies, Tunisian authorities should comply with their obligations under international human rights law, including not only the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, but also those relating to the rights to life, to be free from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to liberty and security of person (and to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention).
To that end, security forces should use force in accordance with the principles of necessity, proportionality, and precaution, and in a manner that respects and ensures people’s lives and safety.
The ICJ expresses its concern that violations of human rights of this kind would take place now despite the many reform efforts during the seven years since the revolution.
Said Benarbia, Director of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: +41 798783546, e-mail: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
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