Tunisia: HRW denounces secret detentions under cover of state of emergency

President Béji Caïd Essebsi, in February 2019. AFP / Archivos

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In Tunisia, Human Rights Watch denounces secret detentions concealed under certain house arrests.

Since the Tunisian president assumed extraordinary powers on July 25, recourse to house arrest is said to be frequent.


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Human Rights Watch lists four opposition political figures under house arrest who are in fact arrested in secret locations.

The explanations of Ahmed Benchemsi, director of communication and advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa, at Human Rights Watch, joined by RFI.


The Tunisian government does not consider these to be secret detentions

," he said


He calls it house arrest.

And the Minister of the Interior, in a press release, even developed.

He said it was house arrest as a precautionary measure dictated by the need to protect national security.

He even quoted a decree on the state of emergency.


These violations have accelerated


But all this legalism makes no sense because, when you have someone arrested by the plainclothes police, you don't tell him where you're taking him, you don't tell him what he's accused of, that his family is not told where he is, for more than a month, that he is not allowed access to his lawyers, that he is cut off from the world, basically.

There were visits which were authorized with the families but in a third place and he is therefore taken back to a place of detention which remains secret.

Then, in the end, if you don't even accuse that person of anything in particular and therefore there is no clear legal procedure that is put in place, well, we call it secret detentions and this is what is happening in Tunisia now.

This was unfortunately already the case under former President Béji Caïd Essebsi but there,

, concludes Ahmed Benchemsi.

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  • Tunisia

  • Human rights