Waves of Arrests in Tunisia Make the EU Seriously Concerned

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.15 - 2024 9:14 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
The EU has asked Tunisia for clarification regarding the arrests of journalists and activists.

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The European Union has voiced concerns regarding the recent arrests of journalists, political activists, and members of civil society in Tunisia.

According to Eruactiv, the EU has requested that the Tunisian government explain these actions, which are occurring amid an escalating political crisis.

Raid on Legal Community and Media Crackdown

On Monday, Tunisian police conducted a second raid in as many days on the headquarters of the bar association, resulting in the arrest of lawyer Mahdi Zagrouba. This incident followed the arrest of Sonia Dahmani, another lawyer critical of President Kais Saied, over the weekend.

The United States has also reacted to these events.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel stated that the actions taken by the Tunisian police contradict the rights guaranteed by the Tunisian constitution. He emphasized that the United States has communicated its concerns clearly and consistently.

These raids have shocked some opposition parties and national organizations, leading to a nationwide strike called by the bar association.

Two journalists from IFM radio, Mourad Zghidi and Borhen Bsaiss, were arrested following their commentary on the radio and social media, as reported by their legal representatives.

EU's Call for Constitutional Rights

The European Union stressed that the Tunisian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of association, and judicial independence.

These principles are crucial to the EU’s partnership with Tunisia.

The situation was further complicated by the arrests last week of civil society activist Saadia Mosbah and others, accused of helping sub-Saharan migrants stay in Tunisia and alleged financial misconduct.

President Saied, during a meeting of the National Security Council this month, accused civil society leaders who defend migrants' rights of being "traitors" funded by foreign sources.

President Saied, who was elected in 2019, dissolved parliament two years later and started ruling by decree. He also took control over the judiciary, actions that the opposition views as a coup. Saied insists that his measures are legal and necessary to address ongoing chaos and corruption.

This Sunday, hundreds of protestors in Tunis called for the release of detained journalists, activists, and opposition members, and demanded that a fair presidential election date be set.

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