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Lawsuits Threaten Tunisian Human Rights League

Lawsuits Filed by Ruling Party Supporters Threaten Tunisian Human Rights League

Letter to U.N. Officials, Feb 3rd 2006

Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations urged U.N. and regional human rights officials to express concern to the Tunisian authorities about court cases targeting the independent Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH). In a letter sent February 1 to three U.N. special rapporteurs on human rights, a special rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the personal representative on human rights of the European Union’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the organizations said the resumption on February 25 of court hearings on a complaint by dissident LTDH members was part of an effort backed by Tunisia’s ruling party to undermine the independence of the League and hamper its work in defense of human rights.

The letter, which was written in French, noted, “Tunisian authorities deny any connection with this case, which they have called an internal LTDH matter. However, there is ample cause to question their denial. Since the election in 2000 of an independent executive committee that outspokenly denounces human rights violations in Tunisia, the LTDH has been the target of numerous lawsuits. Since September 16, 2005, police have, without any legal basis, blocked access to more than fifteen LTDH section offices around the country, preventing even the elected members of these sections from reaching the premises. The pro-government press has provided one-sided coverage of the legal case involving the LTDH. Authorities have taken numerous measures to prevent the LTDH as well as other independent organizations to carry out their activities, notably by blocking grants that the European Union awarded to them.”

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