The European Parliament urged the Tunisian authorities to “release immediately” journalist Noureddine Boutar and “other persons arbitrarily detained”denouncing the “authoritarian drift of President Saïed”.
In a resolution adopted on Thursday 16 March by a very large majority, the European Parliament says “Deeply concerned by President Saïed’s authoritarian drift and his instrumentalization of Tunisia’s disastrous socio-economic situation to reverse the country’s historic democratic transition”.
MEPs call for it to be “put an end to the ongoing repression against civil society”. They urge European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and member states to publicly denounce the serious deterioration of the human rights situation in Tunisia and call for the suspension of specific EU support programs for Ministries of Justice and Home Affairs.
A wave of arrests
At the beginning of February, the authorities launched a raid against personalities including several former ministers, well-known businessmen such as Kamel Eltaïef and the director of Radio Mosaïque, the most listened to in Tunisia, Noureddine Boutar. The president called them “terrorists”accusing them of “conspiracy against state security”.
This wave of arrests, unprecedented since the coup by President Saïed who has granted himself all the powers since July 25, 2021, has been described by Amnesty International as a “politically motivated witch hunt”. In its resolution, the European Parliament also strongly condemns “President Saïed’s racist discourse against sub-Saharan migrants and the attacks that followed”.
On February 21, Mr. Saïed affirmed that the presence of “hoard” illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa was a source of “violence and crimes” and came under a “criminal enterprise” aiming to “changing the demographic composition” from the country. Following these remarks, many immigrants were the target of attacks and hundreds of them asked their embassies to be repatriated to their country.