UN Denounces 'Intimidation and Harassment' of Lawyers in Tunisia

Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
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UN Denounces 'Intimidation and Harassment' of Lawyers in Tunisia

Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)
Hundreds of Tunisia lawyers and activists from civil society organizations take part in a protest against the decline in freedoms (EPA)

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned on Friday the recent intimidation and harassment of lawyers in Tunisia after authorities launched a massive arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists critical of the government.
“Reported raids in the past week on the Tunisia Bar Association undermine the rule of law and violate international standards on the protection of the independence and function of lawyers,” OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
“Such actions constitute forms of intimidation and harassment.”
She said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk urges the authorities to respect and safeguard freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Tunisia is a party.
Over the past few days, Tunisian authorities have detained civil society figures including anti-racism activist Saadia Mosbah, a number of lawyers, as well as political commentators on radio and television stations.
On Thursday, hundreds of Tunisian lawyers led a strike in the capital Tunis to protest the decline of freedoms in a country that saw the onset of the Arab Spring.

The protest came after security officers stormed the Tunisian Bar Association's headquarters during a live television broadcast, arresting a media commentator and lawyer, Sonia Dahmani.
The officers also arrested her colleague, Mahdi Zagrouba, who was tortured during interrogation—an allegation denied by Tunisian officials.
The arrests have sparked condemnations and an international backlash, which Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has slammed as foreign “interference.”
Saied said the detention of lawyers is “legal,” adding that the events of the last few days had nothing to do with the legal profession of lawyers, but “with those who dared to denigrate and even slander their country in the media and who violently assaulted a security officer.”
In her statement, Shamdasani had also quoted Türk as saying that the rule of law in Tunisia must be upheld, and those arbitrarily detained, including for defending the rights of migrants and for combating racial discrimination, released.
“The human rights of all migrants must be protected, and xenophobic hate speech must stop,” she said.
The OHCHR spokesperson said, “We are very concerned by the increased targeting in Tunisia of migrants, mostly from south of the Sahara, and individuals and organizations working to assist them.”
At the same time, she noted, “we are witnessing a rise in the use of dehumanizing and racist rhetoric against Black migrants and Black Tunisians.”
Shortly following Shamdasani’s statements, sources in Tunisia said judicial authorities have arrested Saadia Mosbah, an anti-discrimination activist, as part of a money laundering investigation.
The arrest of Mosbah, the president of Tunisian anti-racism association Mnemty ("My dream"), came just hours after Saied criticized Tunisian humanitarian organizations that defend sub-Saharan migrants at a National Security Council meeting on Monday.
“The associations that cry today and shed tears in the media receive huge amounts of money from abroad,” Saied said.

 



More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

 At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.
One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta told Reuters. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The offensive has left Gaza in ruins, killed more than 37,400 people, of whom 101 were killed in the past 24 hours, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left nearly the entire population homeless and destitute.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: "A short while ago, army fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City."
It said more details would be released soon.
Hamas did not comment on the Israeli claim to have hit its military infrastructure. It said in a statement the attacks targeted the civilian population and vowed in a statement "the occupation and its Nazi leaders will pay the price for their violations against our people."
Footage obtained by Reuters showed dozens of Palestinians rushing out to search for victims amid the destroyed houses. The footage showed wrecked homes, blasted walls, and debris and dust filling the street in Shati refugee camp.

More than eight months into the war, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the centre.
Residents said Israeli tanks deepened their incursion into western and northern Rafah areas in recent days. On Saturday Israeli forces bombed several areas from air and the ground, forcing many families living in areas described as humanitarian-designated zones to leave northwards.
The Israeli military said forces continued "precise, intelligence-based" targeted operations in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen and dismantling military infrastructure.
On Friday, the Gaza health ministry said at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell hit a tent housing displaced families.