Tunisia: UN calls for release or indictment of former minister Noureddine Bhiri

The UN on Tuesday January 11 demanded the release or indictment of the former minister and strongman of the Tunisian party of Islamist inspiration Ennahdha, Noureddine Bhiri and is concerned about the “deteriorationof the human rights situation in the country. “Events in Tunisia over the past month have heightened our already strong concerns about the deteriorating human rights situation in that country.said a spokeswoman for the High Commission, Liz Throssell, at a press briefing in Geneva.

On December 31, Noureddine Bhiri was driven by plainclothes police to an undisclosed location, in what his party described as “an abduction“. Suffering from hypertension, diabetes and having a history of heart disease, he was hospitalized two days later as he has been on a hunger strike since his arrest. “Authorities said he was suspected of terrorism-related offences. However, we understand that his lawyers have not yet been formally informed of the charges against him.“said Liz Throssell.

A second man “placed in detention”

A second man was also taken away and detained on the same day and in similar circumstances, with his whereabouts unknown until January 4“, she added. The family of the two men and the UN Human Rights Office in Tunisia were able to visit them. However, Ms. Throssell pointed out, “these two incidents echo practices not seen since the Ben Ali era and raise serious questions about kidnappings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions“. “We urge the authorities to quickly release these two men or charge them in accordance with the standards of criminal procedure.“, did she say.

Ennahdha has been at the heart of a showdown with President Kais Saied since his July 25 coup and his decision to freeze Parliament, which this party had controlled for ten years. Ennahdha and other opponents have denounced a “Rebellion», and various Tunisian and international NGOs say they fear an authoritarian drift. President Saied says he wants him “to savethe country, plagued by months of political deadlock, and announced in December a referendum for July 25.

In addition to the actions of the internal security forces, we are concerned about the stifling of dissent in Tunisia, including the inadequate use of anti-terrorism legislation, and the increasing use of military courts to try civilians“, also indicated the spokesperson of the High Commission.

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