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Tunisia Courtroom Travesty

Release of nonviolent activists urged

Human Rights Watch today wrote to Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to protest the police brutality and miscarriage of justice that took place in a Tunis courthouse on February 2.

"In the past, the government has often provided a legal veneer for its repression of nonviolent dissidents," said Hanny Megally, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division. "On February 2 the government seemed to dispense even with the pretense of the rule of law and of an independent judiciary."

This impression can be mitigated only by ordering a credible inquiry into the conduct of the court and the police that day, Human Rights Watch wrote. The organization also urged the immediate and unconditional release of the three imprisoned defendants, Hamma Hammami, Samir Taâmallah, and Abdeljabbar Maddouri, on the grounds that they were convicted and imprisoned solely for the nonviolent exercise of their rights of expression and association.

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