[IRP] Tunisia: “Words must become reality, excessive use of force must end” - UN human rights experts
Fri Jan 14 18:41:05 EET 2011
Tunisia: ?Words must become reality, excessive use of force must end? - UN
human rights experts
GENEVA (14 January 2011) ? A group of UN independent human rights experts*
urged the Tunisian Government to control the use of force against peaceful
demonstrators, after 21 deaths were officially confirmed over the weekend
of 8-9 January. Credible human rights organizations have reported a much
higher number of killings since the beginning of the protests in
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,
Christof Heyns, warned that ?the killing of innocent civilians is a clear
violation of international law and is totally unacceptable in any
The statement made by the President yesterday that security forces should
not use live ammunitions against demonstrators is an important step, but
these words must become reality. ?Excessive use of force against
demonstrators must end,? the human rights experts said. ?We are deeply
shocked by the excessive use of force, despite the largely peaceful nature
of the demonstrations against price increases, unemployment, alleged
corruption and restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms.?
?Security forces should scrupulously comply with international principles
governing the use of force and firearms,? Mr. Heyns said. ?They should, as
far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of
force, and react in proportion to the seriousness of the situation.?
El Hadji Malick Sow, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention, called for ?an immediate cessation of all arbitrary arrests?
and urged the Government ?to follow through with its commitment to release
all the persons arrested who have peacefully taken part in the
The group of experts expressed particular concern that ?journalists,
bloggers, political activists and human rights defenders denouncing human
rights violations in the country and advocating, in particular, for
freedom of expression have been the subject of widespread arrest,
intimidation and torture.?
?I deplore the measures taken by the Tunisian authorities to limit media
coverage of the protests,? stated the Special Rapporteur on freedom of
opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, including interferences by the
Tunisian Internet Agency with websites. ?Freedom of expression in Tunisia
must be fully guaranteed?, he stressed.
Noting the dismissal of the Interior Minister and the Minister of
Communications, the experts urged the Government to take all necessary
measures to ensure that any person responsible for any violation relating
to the protests is brought to justice. The experts suggested the
establishment of a special commission to conduct transparent, independent
and prompt investigations into the violence and killings.
Furthermore, the experts called on the Government to adopt all necessary
measures to prevent the recurrence of these acts and to safeguard and
guarantee full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of its
citizens, in particular their right to physical and psychological
integrity, their freedom of opinion and expression, and their right to
The experts are closely following the situation in Tunisia, where
widespread demonstrations have been taking place on a daily basis since 17
December throughout the country. Over the last few days, violence has
reportedly escalated since protests have expanded to criticize limitations
on fundamental rights and freedoms.
The experts note the recent visit of the Special Rapporteur on the
promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while
countering terrorism and encourage the Government of Tunisia to continue
to cooperate with the special procedures mechanisms of the Human Rights
(*) Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to
freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. Frank La Rue; Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns;
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms.
Margaret Sekaggya; Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention, Mr. El Hadji Malick Sow; Special Rapporteur on torture and
other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan
Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom
of opinion and expression:
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions:
Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders:
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention:
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment:
OHCHR Country Page ? Tunisia:
For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Momoko Nomura
(Tel.: +41 22 917 9304 / e-mail:mnomura at ohchr.org) or write to
freedex at ohchr.org.
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