Hamza Nasri: A new chapter in the intimidation of human rights defenders

اضغط هنا لقراءة هذا البيان الصّحفي بالعربيّة

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The undersigned organizations condemn the prison sentence of queer activist and human rights defender Hamza Nasri after his participation in a peaceful march on January 18, 2021. The Tunis Court of First Instance sentenced him to three months in prison for assault a public official by words and gestures under the provisions of Article 125 of the Tunisian Penal Code.

Tunisia witnessed massive protests in January 2021 in light of the country’s economic and political circumstances. During these demonstrations, numerous human rights violations were committed by the security forces against the demonstrators gathered, particularly in the working-class neighborhoods of the various states of the Republic of Tunisia. These violations included instances of excessive use of force, violence to disperse demonstrators and demonstrators, the extensive use of tear gas, as well as the direct throwing of gas canisters into homes and at demonstrators from a distance. deadly. In this context, the young Tunisian Haikel Al-Rashdi died of a serious head injury following his participation in social demonstrations in the city of Sbeitla. Many activists have also been arrested by security forces for incitement after posting support for social protests on social media.

On January 18, 2021, Hamza Nasri took part in a peaceful demonstration in Tunis to denounce the deterioration of the economic and political situation in the country. After the demonstration, he was followed and arrested by police officers as he was returning home. Moreover, Hamza Nasri’s lawyer received falsified information from Beb Suwaiqa and Beb Bhar police stations regarding his whereabouts. Hamza was later charged with deliberately making an inappropriate finger gesture towards police officers. During interrogation, Hamza said he participated, like other citizens, in a peaceful march calling for the improvement of the civil, political, economic and social rights of the Tunisian people. He added that during the stampede of protesters he was attacked by people he did not know were plainclothes police.

In response to Hamza’s statements, the police officers in question claimed that the activist had attempted to assault them and made lewd gestures towards them in the line of duty. After two trials since January 18, 2021, the first on December 09, 2021 and the second on January 24, 2022, the sentence was pronounced on January 31, 2022. The correctional chamber of the Tunis court of first instance sentenced Hamza to 3 months in prison. imprisoned in absentia because he was not present in the courtroom, which the organizations consider a flagrant breach of procedure and a formal flaw.

This defection in the procedure risks depriving Hamza Nasri of a contentious phase. He was given a custodial sentence based on allegations used by the state and security forces to intimidate human rights defenders.

The signatory organizations therefore express:

  • Their solidarity with activist and human rights defender Hamza Nasri. They denounce the Tunisian State’s policy of intimidation towards human rights defenders. Targeting activists in such circumstances and threatening them with such unjust sentences is a form of political violence and an attempt to deny their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
  • Their rejection of the verdict against activist Hamza Nasri. These allegations are the security forces’ means of intimidating activists and silencing them. Tunisian law does not specify the exact definition of what can be considered “aggression of a public official” under Article 125. This allows authorities to interpret it broadly to criminalize and restrict freedom of expression. .

The organizations denounce the prosecution of the activists by accusing them of assaulting a public official, a common accusation widely used by police forces against citizens, especially activists, journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. man, with the intention of silencing them and criminalizing legitimate individual freedoms.

The signatory organizations urge defenders of rights and freedoms to face all attempts to undermine freedoms and human rights.

Undersigned organizations

  • Tunisian League for Human Rights
  • Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  • The Tunisian Organization Against Torture
  • Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
  • The Tunisian Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
  • Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  • Association to activate the right to disagree
  • Southern Dancers
  • Damj, the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality
  • Beite Association
  • international warning organization
  • Association Citizenship, Development, Cultures and Migration of the Two Shores
  • Association of Young Leaders in Tunisia
  • Free Vision Association
  • Manamati Association against all forms of discrimination
  • The Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDH)
  • Aswat Nissaa
  • Kayan Association
  • Association Washm
  • ‘Mawdoon’ initiative for equality
  • Association ‘ARTHEMIS’ for the protection of rights and freedoms
  • Nashaz Association
  • Tahadi Association
  • Speak up for freedom of expression and creativity
  • Tunisian Association for Positive Prevention ATP+
  • The Tunisian Association of the Cultural Movement
  • The Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities
  • World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)
  • Euro-Mediterranean rights
  • Street Arts Association
  • Tawhida Bin Al-Sheikh Group
  • The Vigilance Committee for Democracy in Tunisia, Belgium
  • Banna Association for Media and Development
  • Tunisian Association of Young Doctors
  • Association Vigilance for Democracy and Civil Status
  • equality organization
  • Minority Rights Group (MRG)
  • Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms

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About Wesley V. Finley

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