Report on the mission to Tunisia
1. From the 18th to the 22nd of January, 2011, I participated as a representative of international, European and Italian democratic lawyers to a mission to Tunisia organized by the Euromediterranean Human Rights Network (REMHD), a network based in Paris which has been working since a long time with Tunisian human rights association, trade unions and opposition.
2. The delegation was composed by
a. Mr. Kamel Jendoubi, president of REMDH ;
b. Mr. Michel Tubiana, member of REMDH executive committee and honorary president of the League for Human Rights (France) ;
c. Mr. Jésus Nuñez, representing ACSUR-Las Segovias and director of the Institute of Study on Conflicts and Humanitarian Action (IECAH) (Spain) ;
d. Mr. Fabio Marcelli, member of the Italian Democratic Lawyers and representing also the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (EDLH) and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) ;
e. Mr. Marc Schade-Poulsen, executive director of REMDH ;
f. Ms. Marta Semplici, secretariat of REMDH.
3. The delegation had the occasion to meet a vast array of individuals representing many sectors of the Tunisian society and institutions. Namely we met:
a. Tunisian association of democratic women (ATFD), Ms. Sanaa Ben Achour
b. Tunisian Women Association for Research and Development (AFTURD) – Ms. Radhia Ben Haj Zekri, (president), Ms. Imen Hamza (treasurer and member of the steering committee) ;
c. Association for the struggle against torture in Tunisia (AILTT) – Ms. Radhia Nasraoui
d. International Association for the Support to to Political Prisoners (AISPP) – Mr. Samir Dilou and Ms. Saida Al Akrami, president ;
e. Association of Tunisian Judges (AMT) – Kelthoum Kennou, member;;
f. National Council for the freedoms in Tunisia (CNLT) – Mr. Omar Mestiri, steering committee member , M. Mohammed Soudani member;
g. Committee for the support to the workers of the mineral basin of Gafsa : Mr. Abderrahman Edhili, Mr.Ben Moussa, former president of the Tunis Bar.
h. Freedom and Equity Liberté Equité – Me Najit Laabidi and Gradi Amor steering Committee members ;
i. Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LTDH) – Mr Mokhtar Trifi, president, Malek Kfif, treasurer ;
j. National Tunisian Union of Journalists (SNJT) – Néji Bghouri, president, Lotfi Hajji, former president ;
k. General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) – Mr. Mohamed S’himi, Deputy Secretary General;
l. Communist Party of the Tunisian Workers (PCOT) – Mr. Jilani Hamami, Executive Committee Member
m. Interior Ministry – Mr. Ahmed Friaa, Interior Minister ;
n. Justice Ministry, – Mr. Ridha Khemakhem, General coordinator for human rights;
o. President of the Tunisian Bar, Mr Abderrazak Kilani ;
p. Mr. Taoufik Bouderbala, president of the Investigation Commission on the events since the 17th of December;
q. Mr. Abdesattar Amor, president of the Commission on corruption ;
r. European Union Delegation in Tunis – Mr. Adrianus Koetsenruijter, Ambassador, Mr. Dirk Bouda, First Counsellor.
4. The events which took place since the 17th of December consisted in an ongoing and increasing revolt against the dictatorial and corrupt regime of Mr. Ben Ali. The revolt spread progressively to practically all sectors of the Tunisian society. During the revolt a still unidentified number of citizens were killed by police. The relative figures range from 78 (following the Government) to more than 100 (following Human rights organizations). Several hundreds of the demonstrators were arrested and a part of them remained detained for several days receiving ill-treatments and tortures; many were released but no official list of the detainees was established, motivating suspicions of some cases of disappearances. The number of injured people is also high but not determined. Also approximately 500 members of the security forces were arrested by the army and sent to justice under various charges.
5. The problem of political prisoners remains still to be solved. The majority of the individuals arrested and condemned under the 2003 antiterrorism law are in reality detained for crimes of opinion. The government is elaborating a law of amnesty. That law should rapidly bring to the liberation of all political prisoners, under whichever pretext arrested and detained.
6. The delegation published a communicate supporting the main requests of the Tunisian human rights associations. Namely the establishment of full freedoms of association and press, the liquidation of the party RCD, the satisfaction of the immediate needs of the population, the adoption of immediate measures for the liquidation of political police, the setting up of inquiries on the events and on corruption, the confiscation of goods and money originating from corruption, the establishment of an effective national unity government with the participation of all forces, including islamists and communists and the convocation of a Constituent through free, genuine and transparent, internationally monitored elections. International community and European Union should support the democratic process and revise all existing agreements with Tunisia. I annex the Report of the Delegation (in French).
7. The meetings with the lawyers were very important and interesting. Democratic barristers and judges suffered a consistent amount of repression, were at the forefront of the democratic movement and will now play a very important role in the development of the revolution.
8. I recommend that our associations become permanent members of EHRN. I suggest that IADL and EADL constitute together an United Task Force for the Mediterranean (UTFM) and elaborate together the project of a Mediterranean Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (MIDHR) to be instituted and managed together with EHRN and the Tunisian lawyers associations and associations for human rights.
9. I stated that many young lawyers wish to establish direct and permanent contacts with our Association. I think that, while maintaining our partnership with the Union of Arab Lawyers it is necessary to proceed to the establishment of national associations wherever it is possible in the Arab world and particularly in Tunisia.
10. The Tunisian revolution represents an important step towards democracy for all the Mediterranean area and has an historical paramount importance. We have to render homage to the victims and to the brave Tunisian people, confiding that this important example will have positive effects on the rest of the Arab world and on the other Mediterranean countries. The slogans of the Tunisian revolution: dignity, freedom, jobs, no to corruption are fully assumed by democratic lawyers who commit themselves to support the Tunisian people in its until now successful struggle.
Rome, January the 24th, 2011
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