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Human Right at Risk under Kais Saied’s Power Grab

Global Rights Watch (HRW) said that several key human rights achievements that the country has made in the ten years following the 2011 revolution are at risk under President Kais Saied’s one-man rule.

Since 25 July 2021, President Saied has largely concentrated powers in his office and made hostile comments towards civil society organizations, threatening freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right to a fair trial.

A year on, Tunisians including journalists, parliamentarians, political figures and a former president have all found themselves in the authorities’ crosshairs and have been prosecuted for opposing the president’s power grab.

Following 25 July 2021, Tunisian authorities have resorted to arbitrary house arrests and unlawful travel bans against dozens of individuals, while military courts have increasingly targeted critics of the president with repressive laws.

At least 12 civilians were prosecuted at the military court since President Kais Saied’s power grab, including Ennahda party leader, Rached Ghannouchi.

Following months of accusing the judiciary of corruption and negligence,  Saied issued Decree-Law 2022-11, dissolving the council, replacing it with a new, temporary council, and granting himself considerable sway over judicial careers and disciplinary.

Saied tightened his control over the judiciary even further by issuing Decree-Law 2022-35, amending Decree-Law 2022-11, which gives the president the authority to fire judges and prosecutors at will.

On the same day, a decree was published in the official gazette with the names of 57 judges whom President Saied had arbitrarily dismissed.

Therefore, we stressed the urgent need to halt the practice of military trials for civilians, reinstate the recently dissolved High Judicial Council, abolish the President’s power to dismiss judges, and to protect civic space for civil society in Tunisia.

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