Tunisia suspends 157 associations for security reasons

HRW calls move 'disproportionate and arbitrary'

19 August, 14:08

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, AUGUST 19 - The Tunisian government has come in for criticism after late last month suspending the activities of 157 associations ''for security reasons'' as part of anti-terrorism measures. The order to freeze the activities of the 157 associations, out of a total of 18,000 active in the country, was issued by the government crisis unit under Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa.

    Government spokesman Nidhal Ouerfelli said the aim was to ''preserve the success of the electoral process and ensure an environment fostering the holding of elections''. He added that it was a temporary measure and that appeals could be lodged. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) called many of the suspension notices issued by the Tunisian government 'arbitrary'. ''The Tunisian authorities have good reason to fight terrorism, but they shouldn't be trampling on rights protected by the constitution and the law and bypassing the judiciary,'' said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director.

    The Tunisian authorities ''have taken a step too far with this rash of suspensions,'' Goldstein said. ''They should think again, lift these suspension notices immediately, and use the proper procedures established by law to go after any group that is truly involved in inciting violence.'' (ANSAmed).

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