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Tunisia: Families of jailed leaders file case at African court

The case was filed on Wednesday by families hoping to seek freedom for their loved ones
Rached Ghannouchi greets supporters upon arrival at a police station in Tunis, on 21 February 2023 (AFP)

Families of imprisoned opposition members in Tunisia filed a case at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Tanzania, calling for their immediate release. 

According to Yusra Ghannouchi, the daughter of Rached Ghannouchi who was the leader of Tunisia’s main opposition party, Ennahda, and was arrested last month on the orders of a Tunisian investigative judge, the case was filed by families hoping to seek freedom for their imprisoned relatives. 

Earlier this month Rached was sentenced to one year in prison for incitement.

“We are here to seek justice for our parents and all those struggling to restore democracy in Tunisia,” Yusra said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We hope the African court will make it clear that Kais Saied’s systematic trampling of the rights and freedoms of Tunisians cannot continue with impunity and that he and his accomplices will soon face the consequences of their violations.”

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In March, families of jailed opposition figures filed a legal appeal calling on the United Kingdom to impose sanctions on Tunisian officials, including Saied, for gross human rights violations.

The daughter of opposition MP Said Ferjani, along with Yusra, travelled to Arusha to submit the petition at the court.

Rached was under investigation by authorities for money laundering and incitement to violence, charges he denies and that his supporters claim were politically motivated.

In 2021, the democratically elected Saied shuttered parliament. He replaced it with a rubber-stamp assembly and rewrote the constitution to consolidate power. He has since launched a wave of arrests targeting journalists, activists, and political opponents.

Tunisia: Rached Ghannouchi sentencing part of 'aggressive crackdown' by Kais Saied
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Rached had a travel ban issued against him last year. His Tunisian bank accounts and those of several relatives and members of his party were also frozen.

Last week, nearly 150 academics in 19 countries across Europe and North America expressed solidarity and support for all political prisoners in Tunisia. They described it as a "fierce onslaught" against the North African country’s democracy.

“While opposition leaders make progress towards presenting a united, diverse and broad front for the restoration of democracy, they are facing a wide campaign of arbitrary arrests, politically motivated charges, demonization and threats,” they wrote.

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