Human Rights Watch condemned the action of Tunisia in blocking three international human rights monitors from entering the country.

"Tunisia's refusal to allow these three individuals to visit the country is totally cynical and arbitrary," said Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. "When it appeared President Ben Ali would be visiting the United States we saw a few concessions on some individual cases, but once the visit was postponed, the government reverted to its old authoritarian ways."

President Ben Ali was scheduled to visit Washington on July 13. The visit was postponed late last week at the request of the U.S. because of the Israeli-Palestinian-U.S. summit at Camp David. Rovera and Baudouin had been unable to visit Tunisia since 1994 and 1996, respectively. Two Tunisian organizations, the Tunisian Human Rights League, which is affiliated with the FIDH, and the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia, an active but illegal group, strongly criticized the government action barring the visit of the Amnesty and FIDH representatives.