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TUNISIA: A call to release Judge Bechir Akremi, fired and imprisoned

A call to EU HR/VP Josep Borrell about the case of Judge Bechir Akremi, fired and jailed

HRWF calls upon Josep Borrell to urgently defend the independence of the judiciary in Tunisia and press the Tunisian President to release Bechir Akremi without delay

HRWF (17.03.2023) – Human Rights Without Frontiers has received a desperate call from the son of Judge Bechir Akremi whose father has been particularly targeted by President Kais Said. See his letter that we have slightly edited.

“My name is Mohamed Aziz Akremi son of Tunisian Judge Bechir Akremi.

I’m writing to your organization in order to help me stop the injustice that is happening to my father Bechir Akremi.

My father’s name is Bechir Akremi. He has served his country Tunisia for 34 years as a judge. He was an esteemed judge both in Tunisia and internationally serving as Head General Prosecutor of Tunis Court and Head of the Anti-terrorist Agency of Tunis before being unlawfully fired along with 56 other judges that supported the independence of the judiciary.  On July 13, 2021 the current Tunisian dictator Kais Said grabbed onto more power just before his coup which started by suspending the elected parliament on July 25, 2021.

My father believed and served the law his whole life so to seek justice. He went to the administrative court of Tunis to fight this illegal dismissal. The court annulled the President’s decision first on January 20, 2022 under  the case No. 215183 and rejected the appeal made by the Judicial Council on June 2, 2022 under number 320548. (…) This ruling binds all parties and is final. By all legal definitions my father should have been reinstated as a judge but this court order wasn’t respected and didn’t happen due to political pressure .

On July 29, 2021, the Minister of Interior, with the permission of the President of the State, issued an illegal decision to place my father  under house arrest in order to humiliate him and further abuse him, which lasted until the end of September. The message was a clear signal sent to all judges that went against the wishes of the dictator that they either submit or pay the price.

On February 13,  2023 the president usurped powers from every elected official and acquired full control of the country. Hereby, he made it a one-man rule state and he decided to arrest my father along with many other people who opposed his rule in a move to further take control of the judiciary. His objective was that nobody that is a threat to his dictatorship remains free in Tunisia.

Thirty armed police officers in civilian uniform stormed our house and tossed every room , while shouting insults at my father, taking his phone and sister’s laptop , robbing the house of many possessions and then forcefully taking him away in an unmarked car.

He was then taken to the Anti-terrorist Agency he once was the director of, and put on a chair for 26 hours in order to further torture and break his spirit.

The allegations at first were so empty that the judge assigned to the case was forced to dismiss it after only 5 days. This judge was later fired for this decision . But since the president needed my father to stay in prison, he was taken by force into a mental institution .

Please note that the president commented on this case by claiming that the judge was “pretending to be crazy.”

My family later met my father at the hospital where he confirmed that he wasn’t even aware of his release and was taken to the hospital without any information.

All of this was meant to buy time for preparing their next case against him. (…) After only one day at the hospital , their new case was ready and my father was again taken to the Anti -terrorist agency where a new judge issued the order to arrest and send him to prison on the March 10, 2023. A “new” case that was already examined by the courts and dismissed eight years ago.

Today my father sits in prison for simply standing up for the independence of the judiciary in a country overrun by a dictatorship bound on destroying any hope for a free society .

I address this call for aid to all concerned national and international organizations to intervene in order to put an end to this tragic injustice and protect my father, a judge that has served Tunisia and the world all his life. He was the lead judge of very important cases like the 2015 Sousse terrorist attacks and the Bardo terrorist attacks on the same year. He brought justice to all victims by catching all who those were involved and was even honored internationally for his efforts.

All judgments and administrative decisions cited are available .

If you need any paper of any piece of evidence or any translation , I will be happy to provide it.

Any help is very appreciated , I’m available for questions at any time.

This is my Twitter : @MAzizAkremi

I can give my personal phone number upon request.”

Mohamed Aziz Akremi

Picture: Judge Bechir Akremi

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TUNISIA: The situation of human rights raised by EU institutions

The situation of human rights raised by EU institutions

Speech delivered at the EP Plenary in Strasbourg by Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on behalf of HR/VP Josep Borrell

EEAS (15.03.2023) – Speech of Commissioner Helena Dalli on behalf of HR/VP Josep Borrell

“Thank you, President, Honourable Members [of the European Parliament], 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join this timely debate on Tunisia.  

The different interventions today have shown that we broadly share the analysis and the concern over the latest developments in Tunisia, an important partner and a close neighbour for the European Union. The arrests of prominent political, civil society, and media figures in the recent weeks are indeed worrying. 

So are some recent statements targeting the Sub-Saharan migrants in the country, which have already led to arrests, harassment and violence.  

These events contribute to a climate of growing internal tension and polarisation. Democracy, the Rule of Law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, are values that the people of Tunisia chose during the Jasmin Revolution in 2011. They also constitute the foundation of the EU’s partnership with Tunisia, in which the country’s vibrant and dynamic civil society also plays an important role. 

That is why we will continue to advocate for the preservation and consolidation of these values. We will equally keep insisting on an inclusive dialogue among the various forces in Tunisian society, so that a common project can emerge for the future of the country. That is the only way to ensure social cohesion and the sustainability of major, and urgently needed, reforms. 

At the same time, the economic situation in Tunisia is increasingly dire, with a direct impact on the life of Tunisians, who are suffering from inflation, scarcity of products, and high unemployment, especially among the young. The consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine have hit Tunisia particularly hard and further aggravated the situation. 

Therefore, we must not turn our backs – of course – on the Tunisian people and show that we are standing by our partners when they need us most.  

The Foreign Affairs Council next week will also discuss the situation in Tunisia and chart a way forward for EU engagement with the country. As always, the European Parliament will be fully informed and we look forward to continuing the discussion with you. 

Thank you.”

Link to the video (starting from 18:33): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-238137 

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