Conditions worsen for Tunisian civil society
CIVICUS Monitor partners in Tunisia are gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation for civil society in Tunisia.
On the 16th February 2017, Tunisian authorities extended the state of emergency for an additional three months. Partner reports to the CIVICUS Monitor illustrate a serious situation with increasing harassment of human rights defenders as security forces are given free reign under state of emergency provisions. In the wake of terror attacks in 2015, Tunisian authorities implemented an emergency protocol to address the threat of an extremist insurgency. An increasing body of evidence suggests that abuses against activists are being committed with impunity by Tunisian authorities, under the guise of ensuring national security.
On 10th February 2017, Amnesty International issued an assessment of the worsening conditions for independent activists due to the prolonged state of emergency in Tunisia. As previously reported in the CIVICUS Monitor, the unnecessary extension of emergency powers is widely thought to have had an adverse effect on protection of citizens' civil liberties. In the report, Amnesty documented abuses committed by the authorities between November 2015 and September 2016, including house raids, arbitrary detention, allegations of torture and restrictions on freedom of movement. Amnesty International commented on the situation, stating:
“There is no doubt that the authorities have a duty to counter security threats and protect the population from deadly attacks, but they can do so while respecting the human rights protections set out in the Tunisian constitution and international law, as well as by ensuring accountability for any human rights violations committed by security officers...Giving security agencies a free hand to act above the law will not deliver security.”
Amnesty has called on the Tunisian authorities to conduct an impartial and swift investigation into the allegations of abuses committed by security forces during this state of emergency.