Human Rights Organizations Want Tunisia Human Rights Record Reviewed by EU
The London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, and a number of similar organizations have called on the EU to press Tunisia to respect its commitments to human rights, in fulfillment of an agreement signed with Europe in 1995.
In a letter addressed to the union’s foreign ministers last week, the organizations accused Tunisia of breaching a legally binding human rights clause included in the agreement.
Signatories included Amnesty International, Avocats sans frontières, the Euro-Med Human Rights Network, the International Federation for the Leagues of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International Service for Human Rights, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Reporters Without Borders, and the World Organization Against Torture.
“The deterioration of the human rights situation since the EU-Tunisian Agreement took effect poses an acute challenge to the EU policy toward Tunisia, and more generally toward the Mediterranean region. How the EU proceeds in this regard toward Tunisia, the first country where an Association Agreement came into effect, will have precedential impact on the EU's credibility and effectiveness in addressing human rights issues with its other Mediterranean partners,” said the letter.
The organizations referred to a previous resolution passed on 15 June 2000, in which the European Parliament stressed that ''the promotion of human rights, democracy, civil liberties, the rule of law and sound management of public affairs constitutes an essential element of the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement with a view to creating a body of shared values.''
“In this resolution the European Parliament expressed concern ''at the human rights situation in Tunisia, and called on the Association Council ‘'to carry out as soon as possible a joint evaluation of respect for human rights in Tunisia in order to involve both parties in addressing the issue, and asked the Commission to present to Parliament a report on the evolution of the human rights situation in Tunisia,’” said Amnsety.
In this context and in light of the increasingly grave attacks and restrictions on human rights defenders by the Tunisian authorities, the undersigned organizations call on the EU to urge Tunisia to fulfil its obligations under the Association Agreement and international human rights law by, among other things:
- freeing all persons detained or imprisoned solely for the-nonviolent exercise of the right to speech, association, or assembly;
- restoring the right to freedom of movement to all persons who are arbitrarily deprived of passports or forbidden to leave the country;
- ending all forms of harassment against human rights defenders and their relatives by, among other measures, restoring their passports, telephone, and fax service where these have been deprived; by ending police surveillance that is manifestly conducted as a form of intimidation; and by allowing all independent human rights organizations including the National Council on Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT) and the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH) to function legally and freely, in conformity with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
- instituting effective safeguards to prevent the use of torture against persons in police custody;
- instituting a credible and transparent system for investigating allegations of abuse and ensuring that human rights abusers are identified and brought to justice; and
- inviting the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on human rights defenders to visit Tunisia – Albawaba.com
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