Rights groups warn of repression from Tunisia law

2nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Five leading human rights groups on Friday called on European governments to speak out after Tunisia adopted a law they claim is designed to silence government critics.

"It is unacceptable that Europe once again remains passive in the face of this scandalous law," said Souhayr Belhassen, president of the International Federation of Human Rights.

The law makes it a criminal offense for any Tunisian to engage in actions deemed harmful to Tunisia's interests and economic security.

The FIDH, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders are among the groups that have raised alarm over the law presented by Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and adopted by parliament on June 15.

Michel Tubiana, from the Human Rights League (LDH), said the law is aimed at silencing "those who have drawn attention to the Tunisian government's repeated violations of its commitments to improve human rights and democracy."

The groups called on the European Union to speak out against the law and link its repeal to the outcome of talks between Brussels and Tunis on closer economic and political cooperation.

Soazig Dollet, from Reporters Without Borders, charged that France and other European governments had yet to speak out against the law, at a time when Brussels is negotiating a partnership accord with Tunis.

"We haven't heard anything from them so far," said Dollet.

© 2010 AFP

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