Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tunisia: End Arbitrary Restrictions on Ex-Political Prisoners

Post-Prison Regime Robs Dissidents of Normal Lives

"(New York) - The Tunisian authorities should end arbitrary restrictions on released political prisoners, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The measures seem aimed to ensuring that dissidents are unable to resume normal lives upon release, Human Rights Watch said.

The Tunisian authorities said they would not allow Human Rights Watch to release the report at a news conference, but did not present any legal basis for the decision. Human Rights Watch planned to proceed with the public release on March 24, 1010. Human Rights Watch held news conferences in Tunisia in 2004 and 2005. In the past year, Human Rights Watch has held numerous news conferences in the region, including in Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

"When Tunisia releases political prisoners, it ensures that life resembles a larger prison defined by surveillance, threats, and a cocktail of restrictions," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "The government's attempts to silence Human Rights Watch reflect another element of the repression that is a fact of life for too many Tunisians."

The 42-page report, "A Larger Prison: Repression of former political prisoners in Tunisia," documents the range of repressive measures, many of them arbitrary, that Tunisian authorities impose on former prisoners. These include close monitoring and surveillance, denial of passports, threats to re-arrest some who speak out on human rights or politics, and restrictions on movement that are not delivered in writing to the affected person and the violation of which can lead to re-imprisonment.

Many of these measures appear to be imposed at the whim of officials, without any legal basis. Courts do sometimes legally impose "supplementary sentences" of "administrative control" when they send defendants to prison....."

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