Families of jailed Tunisian politicians want UK to sanction Sayed | Politics News

Family members are calling for sanctions against Tunisian officials, including the president, following a wave of arrests of opposition figures.

London, England – Families of jailed Tunisian opposition figures have filed a legal complaint calling on the UK to sanction Tunisian officials, including President Kais Syed, for gross human rights abuses.

The complaint was made under the UK’s Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020. The UK government can impose sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on entities or bodies it believes have been involved in past or present serious violations of human rights under the law.

“We are asking the foreign minister [James Cleverly] to reconsider [our application] as a matter of urgency and to impose sanctions on those particular individuals that we have identified,” Rodney Dixon KC, the barrister in charge of the case, told a press conference in London on Wednesday.

The legal filing also sought sanctions against Tunisian Justice Minister Leila Jafel, Defense Minister Imed Memih, former Interior Minister Tawfik Sharfeddine and former acting Interior Minister Ridha Garsalaoui.

The request was made on behalf of the families of Noureddine Bhiri, a member of the Tunisian parliament and former minister of justice; judge and former prosecutor Bechir Akremi; and opposition parliamentarian Saeed Ferjani and Rida Bouzayene. All were subjected to violence while in prison.

“Those responsible for these outrageous violations will not be able to travel freely and go about their lives and businesses as if everything is normal.” [Sanctions are] there to send a signal that these abuses need to stop,” Dixon said.

Serious violations of human rights

As of July 2021, Sayed and his government have been accused of committing serious human rights violations, including ongoing arrests, torture, and killings of opposition figures.

Kauter Ferjani, the daughter of 68-year-old Saeed Ferjani, said her father went on hunger strike to protest the arrest and imprisonment without any evidence.

“For him, this was the only way to protest the mock hearings he and his fellow political prisoners were subjected to,” Kautter said at the London press conference.

She said her father claimed, “The case against me is nothing [but] an attempt to whitewash and normalize a coup and revenge on his opponents.

Said Ferjani spent 20 years in political exile in the UK before returning to Tunisia during the Arab Spring in 2011. A leading figure in the main opposition party Ennahda, he was arrested and tortured by the government of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali .

Kauter told Al Jazeera that she fears for her father’s safety as he is being held in an overcrowded prison cell with more than 100 people. She said she was not allowed to visit or contact her father, other than to receive weekly updates from lawyers.

Ferjani said
Said Ferjani, a senior member of the Ennahdha party, in Tunisia [File: Paul Schemm/AP Photo]

Repression of opposition voices

The arrests of the four opposition figures were part of the Tunisian government’s crackdown on dissent as President Sayed’s rule continues to take an increasingly authoritarian turn.

“The recent crackdowns were particularly worrying. He was condemned by the European Parliament. He was condemned by the UN and many other bodies. Those words should be welcomed, but we say that without the bite of sanctions, there is little hope that things will change,” Dixon said.

For the past two years, Tunisia has been in a political and economic crisis that began with Sayed’s unilateral suspension of the democratically elected parliament and the dissolution of the government.

The opposition called Sayed’s rule a “constitutional coup” as he took control of the judiciary, in addition to Tunisia’s electoral body. Protests against Syed’s consolidation of power were met with a brutal police response.

Last month, Syed said those arrested were “terrorists” who had “conspired against state security”.

He also threatened the judges handling the cases and said: “Anyone who dares to acquit [those arrested] is their accomplice.”

Source link