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To the Government of Tunisia

The U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders urged the government of Tunisia, in a statement of December 7, 2000, to "end the harassment of human rights defenders in the country and...ensure that the Tunisian League for Human Rights resume[s] its activities as soon as possible."

Tunisia's minister of human rights, Slaheddine Maâoui, in an interview published in le Monde on April 6, 2001, declared, "We are absolutely opposed to any form of harassment of human rights activists."

We urge the government to put the human rights minister's statement into practice by:

    · Allowing all human rights organizations, including the LTDH and the CNLT, freely to carry out their mission of monitoring and reporting on human rights conditions;

    · Immediately and unconditionally releasing from prison human rights lawyer Néjib Hosni, and re-examining the conviction of Moncef Marzouki for acts of speech and association that are protected under international human rights conventions to which Tunisia is a party;

    · Reversing the decision by the Ministry of Public Health to dismiss Moncef Marzouki from his post as a professor of medicine;

    · Guaranteeing the freedom of travel to those human rights activists who are either deprived of their passports or refused permission to leave the country, including CNLT members Néjib Hosni, Moncef Marzouki, Sadri Khiari, Ali Ben Salem, Ali Ben Romdhane, Mohamed Ali Bedoui, and Jalal Zoghlami;

    · Restoring telephone and fax service to human rights activists who have been deprived of them;

    · Ending police surveillance that is manifestly conducted as a form of intimidation;

    · Conducting impartial criminal investigations into recent incidents where men in plainclothes have physically assaulted human rights activists;

    · Acting in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which requires that the rights to peaceful assembly (Article 21) and association (Article 22) be respected; and abiding by the Declaration of the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on December 9, 1998, the Declaration states in Article 5:

For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels:
(a) To meet or assemble peacefully;
(b) To form, join and participate in nongovernmental organizations, associations or groups;
(c) To communicate with nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations.

Article 8 of the Declaration states:

1. Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to have effective access, on a non-discriminatory basis, to participation in the government of his or her country and in the conduct of public affairs.

2. This includes, inter alia, the right, individually and in association with others, to submit to governmental bodies and agencies and organizations concerned with public affairs criticism and proposals for improving their functioning and to draw attention to any aspect of their work that may hinder or impede the promotion, protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

To the European Union

The E.U./Tunisia Association Agreement, which came into force in 1998, stipulates in Article 2 that respect for human rights and democratic principles shall guide the domestic and international policies of all parties and constitute an essential element of the Agreement. Human Rights Watch and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders urge the E.U. to:

    · Establish concrete mechanisms to evaluate regularly the compliance with Article 2 by all parties to Euro-Mediterranean association agreements. These mechanisms must include regular and impartial monitoring of human rights conditions and of the extent to which human rights defenders are free to act and speak out in defense of the rights of others;
    · Press for verifiable progress on the basis of the recommendations specified above as well as the recommendations issued by U.N. bodies;
    · Make appropriate démarches toward Tunisian authorities in individual cases where violations of basic human rights standards have taken place;
    · Make the assessment of compliance with Article 2 a separate agenda item in all meetings held under the Agreement, and especially the Association Council meetings; and
    · Encourage the government of Tunisia to invite the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders to conduct a visit to Tunisia.

To the Government of France

The French government has increasingly expressed concern about human rights abuses in Tunisia. Since December 2000, it has publicly criticized the conviction of Moncef Marzouki, the pressures exercised against the LTDH, the refusal to allow French trial observer Eric Plouvier to enter Tunisia, and the beating by "unknown" men of Jalal Zoghlami, a CNLT member and political activist whose new magazine, Kaws al-Karama (The Arc of Dignity), has not been approved. Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine observed in an interview published in le Parisien of April 1 that Tunisia's economic successes under President Ben Ali were such that "the regime could evolve more in the political realm, modernize itself, and advance in terms of democratization." In addition, French embassy personnel have increased their observation of political trials in Tunisia.

France's National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l'Homme, CNCDH) adopted on January 25 a resolution "deploring the degradation of the state of public liberties and human rights in Tunisia." The resolution urged the French government to act more forcefully to promote human rights in that country.

Human Rights Watch and the Observatory for Human Rights Defenders urge the government of France to:

    · Continue to speak out publicly about Tunisia's violations of its human rights obligations;
    · Ensure that French diplomats regularly observe political trials in Tunisia; and
    · Implement all of the recommendations of the CNCDH, including:

"do[ing] everything to ensure that Tunisian authorities stop systematically violating their engagements in terms of the protection and promotion of human rights"; and "mobiliz[ing] our partners in the European Union to ensure its monitoring of respect for human rights in Tunisia, within the framework of Article 2 of the E.U.-Tunisia Association Agreement; notably on the occasion of the next meeting of the [bilateral] Association Council."

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