Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Subject: Tunisia protests
We are closely watching the demonstrations across Tunisia and the authorities’ response to them. We are concerned about the high number of arrests – 778 people have been arrested since Monday, some 200 of them between the ages of 15 and 20. We call on the authorities to ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner, and that all those detained are treated with full respect for their due process rights and other fundamental guarantees.
The authorities must ensure that those exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are not prevented from doing so. Ahead of the 14 January anniversary of the 2011 revolution, it is particularly important to ensure that demonstrators are able to protest peacefully.
We understand there has been looting, vandalism and violence, including damage to police stations and shops. We call on all those taking to the streets to exercise restraint and calm. Peaceful demonstrators must not be held responsible or penalised for the violent acts of others.
We urge all sides to work together towards resolving, with full respect for human rights, the economic and social problems underpinning the unrest. The UN Human Rights Office in Tunisia will continue to closely monitor the situation.