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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Police violence in Tunisia: Amnesty International stigmatizes impunity

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The non-governmental organization Amnesty International on Friday expressed concern over the continuing impunity of police officers who commit abuses in Tunisia, ten years after the popular uprising, referring to a new series of police atrocities that have sparked outrage in the country.

The death of a young Tunisian resident, Ahmed bin Amara, a few hours after his arrest on June 8th, sparked protests and riots that were repeated several nights in the popular Sidi Hashin district.

Swaps and tear gas were exchanged in another Tunisian slum, Etadhamen, which had already been rocked by similar riots in the winter.

Protests have been ongoing in recent days in the Tunisian capital. Yesterday, dozens of people marched in the center of Tunis, shouting, among other things, the slogan "dignity and freedom in the popular neighborhoods".

"Previous generations were accustomed to silence and injustice, but we are not going to be silent anymore," said Dia Agiari, a 22-year-old protester.

In a statement, Amnesty International called on the Tunisian authorities to "conduct an impartial and effective investigation into the suspected circumstances of the death of Ahmed bin Amara". The NGO emphasizes that the police officers who are suspected of the death of the young man remain on duty at the Cindy Hashin police station.

"The information that eyewitnesses were intimidated is very worrying," said Amna Gelali, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"This is the first time in recent years (…) in Tunisia that we have found so many people who were afraid to speak out at a human rights organization," Ms Gelali said.

According to the family's lawyer, cited by Amnesty International, authorities arrested a key witness, a friend of Ahmed bin Amara, who found him injured and took him to hospital.

The mobile phone of a neighbor who took a video of the arrest was confiscated, the NGO added.

More than ten years after the fall of Zine el Abidine Bin Ali's police regime, the security forces may no longer be safe, but they may have absolute power, but few reforms have taken place. Their abuses rarely end up in the courtroom. Tunisia's economic woes, meanwhile, have worsened, sparking protests amid slow progress in the country's democratic transition.

Source: RES-EAP

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