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Tunisia: Dismissal of union activist Nasser Ben Amara by Ministry of Cultural sparks controversy; CFJ reversal of decision and advocates for dialogue

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Press release

Geneva – February 21, 2024


In a move that has ignited a heated debate, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in Tunisia recently decided to dismiss Nasser Ben Amara, a prominent trade union activist and secretary general of the main union representing employees and executives within the Ministry. The controversial decision was attributed to statements made by Ben Amara during a press conference, which the Ministry deemed offensive to its staff.

According to the Committee for Justice (CFJ) monitoring team, the dismissal appears rooted in the Minister of Culture’s accusations against Ben Amara. The activist, in response, emphasized that his statements were directed towards what he perceives as the Ministry’s infringement on trade union rights rather than an attack on its staff. Furthermore, he vehemently denied allegations of engaging in musical activities for financial gain, asserting that this accusation is unfounded.

Ben Amara revealed that two cases have been filed against him, with one revolving around the interpretation of Decree 54 based on two union statements that await a ruling from the investigating judge. The second case involves charges of “committing a brutal thing,” with Ben Amara asserting that such accusations are part of a broader pattern of mistreatment faced by trade unionists within the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, alleging a lack of support for union activities by the Minister.

CFJ expressed solidarity with Ben Amara and condemned what they perceived to be arbitrary measures taken by the Ministry. CFJ rejects the decision and demands its immediate cessation, calling for neutralizing any adverse effects on Ben Amara’s professional and union trajectory.

Moreover, the CFJ is urging Tunisian authorities to halt what they describe as a repressive media campaign against union activists and defenders of workers’ rights. The committee emphasizes the need for open dialogue between the authorities and these activists to address concerns and work towards a resolution.

As tensions escalate, the case of Nasser Ben Amara highlights broader issues surrounding workers’ rights and freedom of expression within Tunisia, sparking discussions on the role of unions and the balance between civic engagement and government control.

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