Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders urge that all convictions be voided in this case on the grounds that the defendants were detained, prosecuted, and convicted solely on the basis of alleged actions that are within the bounds of freedom of expression and association that are protected by international treaties to which Tunisia is a party. Fahem Boukaddous should be released from prison and all of the others who were released from prison should have their civil and political rights restored to them. The warrants for the arrest of those convicted in absentia should be canceled.
The undersigned organizations urge the government of Tunisia to:
· Conduct an impartial investigation into each allegation of torture made by the defendants in this trial and into the failure of judges hearing the case to accede to defense requests for medical examinations of the defendants, in apparent violation of Tunisia's code of criminal procedure. The results of these investigations should be made public and if they confirm that acts of torture or ill-treatment occurred, the government should identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
· Put an end to the intimidation of lawyer Radhia Nasraoui and other Tunisian human rights lawyers and activists, and comply with the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly onDecember 9, 1998, by ensuring that human rights defenders can freely carry out their activities and enjoy the right to freedom of expression, association, and movement;
· Review Tunisia's penal code and other legislation, as recommended by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its opinion issued in May 1999, so as to "adapt it to the [Universal] Declaration [of Human Rights] and other relevant norms of international law that [Tunisia] has accepted."
· Implement reforms to ensure in practice the independence of the judiciary and that "every accused person shall be presumed innocent until his guilt be proved in accordance with procedure offering him necessary guarantees for his defense" as provided by Tunisia's constitution. Judges must ensure that all confessions obtained through torture or ill-treatment are excluded as evidence in trials, except when used in proceedings brought against the suspected perpetrators; and that defendants are granted a fair hearing, including the opportunity to present or have presented on their behalf testimony, witnesses, and material evidence under the same conditions as testimony, witnesses and material evidence against them.
Monitor and ensure compliance by law enforcement officers with legal reforms that took effect after the verdict was reached in this case; these reforms shorten the maximum duration of garde à vue detention, require law enforcement officers to inform detainees of the reasons for their arrest and their right to request a medical examination, and require law enforcement officers to inform the detainees' families of their arrest (see Appendix C).