Amnesty International and a coalition of human rights organizations and family members filed a petition with the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday calling for the immediate release of two prominent Tunisian opposition leaders who have been imprisoned since October 2020.
The petition, submitted by Amnesty International, Defenders of Freedom of Thought, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights, and the two families, calls on Tunisia to release and drop charges against Omar Al Hattab and Saif al-Araibi, two leading members of the Tunisia-based movement Al-Irada Al-Sha’abiyya (People’s Will).
Al-Hattab and al-Araibi were arrested on October 14th, 2020, on charges of “belonging to a terrorist organization” and “plotting to overthrow the government”. The two were initially ordered to a forced two-month pre-trial detention, which was later extended for another six months in December by a military court in Tunis.
The petition, which has been co-signed by 56 Tunisian, regional and international organizations, states that the two men should never have been arrested in the first place due to the fact that their activities were peaceful and did not place public safety or order at risk. The petition adds that their arrests are in reprisal for their political views and activism in support of human rights for all Tunisians.
The petition calls on the Human Rights Council to declare al-Hattab and al-Araibi’s detention arbitrary, in violation of their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and to take all necessary steps to secure their immediate and unconditional release.