Tunisia: Families of dissidents go to The Hague after mass arrests

Tunisia: Families of dissidents go to The Hague after mass arrests

Family members of imprisoned Tunisian politicians and lawyers will attempt to challenge the brutal acts carried out by the Tunisian president through a special procedure in international law at the ICC in the Hague, reports Africa News, October 6. 

The case has been brought under Article 15 of the court’s Rome Statute, which allows the prosecutor to investigate on its “own initiative,” bypassing the need to obtain a referral from a member state or the United Nations Security Council.

Over 20 opposition figures have been arrested in recent times as Saied-led Tunisia ramps up sanctions on dissenting voices. The families will challenge the “political persecution and human rights violations” these figures have faced. 

READ: Opposition figure latest to be jailed in Tunisia

The ICC was moved to The Hague, Netherlands in 2015 and is often used to prosecute those suspected to be guilty of war crimes, international crimes of genocide, and crimes against humanity. 

Outside The Hague, the families’ lawyer, Rodney Dixon said, “Persons have been detained unlawfully, arbitrarily mistreated, in some cases tortured. They don’t know what the charges are against them. The evidence hasn’t been presented and there’s no end in sight as to how long they will remain detained,”. 

The British lawyer is vastly experienced in the practice of international law and has appeared on behalf of governments, heads of states, and former and current politicians. 

Dixon is part of the London-based legal organisation, Temple Garden Chambers (TGC) and they (Dixon more specifically) addressed the current situation in Tunisia on their website. 

TGC said, “Since what has been described as a ‘coup’ by President Kais Saied on 25 July 2021, there has been significant repression of freedom of expression and assembly in Tunisia. From the start of 2023, in a crackdown on opposition to President Saied’s regime, there have been a series of high profile arrests of Tunisian opposition voices, including MPs, members of the judiciary, lawyers and journalists. Laws curtailing freedom of expression and assembly have also affected civil society and the wider civilian population,”. 

READ: Online Critics Face Consequences in Tunisia

The Brit also expressed concern at the abhorrent treatment of black African migrants in the North African country. 

In February, the Tunisian President made derogatory remarks regarding the migrants claiming that immigration was a plot aimed at changing the country’s demography then proceeding to call on security forces to tackle the “hordes” of undocumented migrants.  

Despite Mr Saied denying so, violent attacks on black African migrants have been on the rise in Tunisia and at the border since then. 

Yusra Ghannouchi, daughter of Enhada Party leader Rached Ghannouchi, also castigated Saied for the clampdown on dissenting voices as well as the mistreatment of migrants. 

She told Euronews that she perceives Europe to be responsible for ” not condemning the coup, through giving tacit approval to what has been happening under Kais Saied. Europe is responsible for the situation we are all in now in terms of the crackdown on the opposition as well as the increase in violations against refugees.” 

Yusra Ghannouchi was also in The Netherlands alongside the families of dissidents to announce plans to pursue action at the international court. 

81-year-old Ghannouchi was arrested in May of this year for “plotting against state security”. He recently went on hunger strike for three days in support of fellow jailed dissenters. 



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