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Tunisia: CFJ demands release of anti-racism activist Saadia Mosbah and end to targeting activists

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Press release

Geneva – May 22, 2024


Tunis, May 22, 2024 – The Committee for Justice (CFJ) has called on Tunisian authorities to immediately release Saadia Mosbah, the president of the “Manamity” Association for Combating Racial Discrimination, and to cease targeting activists involved in human rights work.

On Thursday, May 16, the investigative judge at the Tunis Primary Court issued a detention order against Mosbah following her interrogation. Saadia was arrested by security forces on Monday, May 6, after a search of her home. She was detained for five days, with her detention extended pending further investigation

related to the issue of irregular migration flows from sub-Saharan Africa to Tunisia.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) has reported that the Tunisian authorities have initiated a crackdown on organizations working against racial discrimination and providing direct assistance and guidance to refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. This crackdown follows a meeting of the National Security Council and includes the previous arrests of Sharifa Al-Riyahi, former executive director of “Tunisia, Land of Asylum,” and Abdelrazak Al-Karimi and Mustafa Al-Jamali from the “Tunisian Refugee Council.”

FTDES added that dozens of associations in various regions, including Medenine, Sfax, Sousse, and Tunis, have faced inspections of their headquarters and numerous members have been summoned for investigation. The aim appears to be to criminalize their assistance to refugees and migrants, despite their compliance with national laws and administrative regulations. Many of these associations have partnerships with state institutions at the national, regional, or local levels.

CFJ condemns the harsh campaign launched by Tunisian authorities against NGOs and organizations assisting migrants and asylum seekers, which has led to many human rights workers being stigmatized as traitors and collaborators.

CFJ urges Tunisian authorities to respect the freedom of these organizations to operate, cease targeting their leaders and activists, and release Saadia Mosbah. They emphasize that these actions contradict Tunisia’s international commitments and call for an end to investigations that seem to be linked to Mosbah’s human rights work. The committee advocates for a safe and suitable environment for the legitimate and peaceful exercise of her human rights activities.

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