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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Arrest of perceived political opponents and civil society in Tunisia

14 February 2023

People walk outside a court in Tunis, Tunisia January 10, 2023. © REUTERS/Jihed Abidellaoui

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Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jeremy Laurence



UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, today expressed his concern  over the deepening crackdown against perceived political opponents and civil society in Tunisia, including through measures taken by the authorities that continue to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Since Saturday, at least nine people, including former civil servants, have been reportedly arrested and some detained, on security and graft charges.

The UN Human Rights Office has also observed that the General Prosecutor has increasingly initiated criminal proceedings against perceived opponents, charging them with “conspiracy against State security”, causing offence to the Head of State or violating the decree-law to fight Cybercrime.

We are additionally concerned that some of those held on charges connected to criticising the Government have been tried in military courts. We call on the authorities to cease immediately practices of trying civilians before military tribunals.

We call on the Tunisian authorities to respect due process and fair trial standards in all judicial proceedings and to release immediately all those arbitrarily detained, including anyone detained in relation to the exercise of their rights to freedom of opinion or expression.

Since July 2021, the authorities have also taken a series of measures that have undermined the independence of the judiciary, including dissolving the High Judicial Council and the summary dismissal of 57 judges

We call on the authorities to work towards bringing justice sector legislation, procedures and practices into line with applicable international norms and standards, and through the separation of powers, to uphold the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.


For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva

Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or
Jeremy Laurence +  +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] or
Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

In Nairobi

Seif Magango - +254 788 343 897 / [email protected]

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