Tunisia accused of using emergency powers to ‘hide secret detentions’

Tunisian authorities are using emergency laws to place people in “secret detention,” Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday, warning that the practice has become more common under President Kais Saied.

The human rights organization said in a statement that “the Tunisian authorities use what they call the designated housing units to conceal secret detentions under the pretext of a state of emergency.”

“Dedicated housing was already common during the era of former President Beji Caid Essebsi. However, violations under this extrajudicial measure have increased since President Kais Saied granted himself exceptional powers,” the organization said.

Saeed had dismissed the government on July 25 (July) last, froze parliament, seized wide powers, and later moved to rule by decree.

On Saturday, he said he would dissolve an important judicial watchdog.

>> The Tunisian president dissolves a council charged with ensuring the independence of the judiciary

Human Rights Watch urged authorities to “immediately end arbitrary detentions” or use the fully legal and transparent path to allow for judicial appeals.

He cited the case of former Minister of Justice Noureddine El Beheiry and former Interior Ministry official Fathi Baladi, both of whom are members of the Ennahda party who are enemies of Said.

“More than a month after their arrest, neither my country nor al-Buhairi has received any written notification of their specific residency,” nor an arrest warrant or official charge, the rights group said.

Salsabil Chelali, head of the Tunisian group, said that “not revealing where someone is being held is a worrying step towards an outlaw state and can in no way be justified by the state of emergency that has been repeatedly extended since 2015”.

Plainclothes police arrested the two men on December 31 and later charged them with “terrorist” crimes.

Human Rights Watch said that Baldi is being held in a secret location and that his lawyers have so far been unable to meet with him, despite numerous requests.

Al-Buhairi has been on a hunger strike since his arrest, and his wife told Human Rights Watch that he was receiving food by drip.

Tunisia’s Committee Against Torture says that men are only allowed to visit family members under the supervision of the police.


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