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Back Activities Alerts Action Alert: Tunisia – IHRC urges the Tunisian interim government to release political prisoners

Action Alert: Tunisia – IHRC urges the Tunisian interim government to release political prisoners

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The systematic human rights abuses which took place over the past two decades needs to be brought to an end. All political prisoners must be released or re-tried in a just court.

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action required
4. Sample letter


1. Summary

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) congratulates the Tunisian people on their revolution and the departure of former President Ben Ali on the 14th of January 2011, after ruling the country for 23 years. However, the systematic human rights abuses which took place over the past two decades needs to be brought to an end. All political prisoners must be released or re-tried in a just court.

According to the Tunisian Constitution, the interim government is being lead by the acting interim President Ghannouchi. It must ensure that all those convicted for their views and beliefs are released, as a concrete step towards democracy.


2. Background

Ghannouchi vowed to ensure an amnesty for political prisoners, media freedoms and an independent judiciary; however, it is reported that between 500 to1000 political prisoners are still imprisoned. The prisoners are mainly members of Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia.

A large number of them have been tried and convicted under the anti-terrorism laws. They have been imprisoned for long years with unsubstantiated charges or fair trials, being forced to confess under duress and torture.

The UNHCR reported that “About 150 remain incarcerated, 87 serving sentences under the anti-terrorism law and another 56 awaiting trial, according to a Justice Ministry official. A few additional prisoners are serving politically motivated sentences not under the anti-terrorism law but under the ordinary penal code or military law.”

The new government needs be representative of the Tunisian people, thus the participation of political prisoners is vital. Without their input, the future of the government will lack legitimacy.

The Tunisian people must be given the freedom to choose their government, a choice which dozens of people have given their life for in recent protests.

IHRC urges the Tunisian government to release or prosecute the political prisoners in a fair trial, to investigate the charges brought against them and to investigate allegations of torture and bring to justice the perpetrators.


3. Action required

Write to the Minister of Justice and Human Rights and the Minister of Interior, urging them to free all political prisoners or to present them before a fair civil court for a re-trial.


4. Sample letter
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A sample letter is given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is very important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters. It is preferable that letters be sent via post, or otherwise by fax and/or email.

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a) Write to the Minister of Justice and Human Rights

[Your name]
[Your address]

Lazhar Bououni
Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
31 Boulevard Bab Benat
1006 Tunis – La Kasbah
Tunisia
Fax: + 216 71 568 106

[Date]

Your Excellency Lazhar Bououni,

Re: The release of all political prisoners

I am writing to urge you to ensure that all political detainees are either charged with recognizable criminal offences and tried accordingly or released.

The acting President Ghannouchi has vowed to release all political prisoners, and yet according to the report there are 500- 1000 political prisoner remaining in prisons. Those imprisoned mainly belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups.

They were mainly imprisoned for their views and beliefs. A large number of them have been tried and convicted under the anti-terrorism laws. They have been imprisoned for many years with unsubstantiated charges or fair trials, with allegations of prisoners being forced to confess under duress and torture.

The new government needs to be representative of the Tunisian people, thus the participation of political prisoners is vital. Without their input, the future of the government will lack legitimacy.

The systematic human rights abuses which took place over the past two decades needs to be brought to an end and therefore I urge you to use your authority to free all political prisoners or to present them before a fair civil court for trial.


I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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a) Write to the Minister of Interior

[Your name]
[Your address]

Ahmed Friaa
Ministry of Interior and Local Development Avenue Habib Bourguiba 1000 Tunis, Tunisia
Fax: +216 71 340 888

[Date]

Your Excellency Ahmed Friaa,

Re: The release of all political prisoners

I am writing to urge you to ensure that all political detainees are either charged with recognizable criminal offences and tried accordingly or released.

The acting President Ghannouchi has vowed to release all political prisoners, and yet according to the report there are 500- 1000 political prisoner remaining in prisons. Those imprisoned mainly belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups.

They were mainly imprisoned for their views and beliefs. A large number of them have been tried and convicted under the anti-terrorism laws. They have been imprisoned for many years with unsubstantiated charges or fair trials, with allegations of prisoners being forced to confess under duress and torture.

The new government needs to be representative of the Tunisian people, thus the participation of political prisoners is vital. Without their input, the future of the government will lack legitimacy.

The systematic human rights abuses which took place over the past two decades needs to be brought to an end and therefore I urge you to use your authority to free all political prisoners or to present them before a fair civil court for trial.


I look forward to your reply regarding this urgent matter.

Yours sincerely,


[Your signature]
[Your name]

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For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Please help IHRC by visiting http://www.ihrc.org.uk/catalog and making a donation or buying an item from our on-line store.

If you want to subscribe to the IHRC list please send an email to subscribe@ihrc.org

If you want to unsubscribe from the IHRC list please send an email from your subscribed email address to unsubscribe@ihrc.org

If you are reusing this alert, please cite the source.

For more information, please contact the office on the numbers or email below.

"And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper."
Holy Qur'an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

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