La Cour de Strasbourg ordonne à la Turquie de ne pas extrader M. Malek Charahili en Tunisie et de payer environ 30000 Euros de dédommagements à l’intéressé Liberté et Equité: Nouvelles des libertés en Tunisie Le TMG salue la libération du journaliste Taoufik Ben Brik mais condamne la politique de sanctionner les journalistes critiques Yahyaoui Mokhtar : Tunisie: La journée noire du net Sami Ben Gharbia: Tunisia: flickr, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators and critical blogs are not welcome Foreign Policy: Le mythe d’une Tunisie modérée Foreign Policy: The Myth of a Moderate Tunisia Turquie: Les premières dames ont le droit de porter le voile
TEXTE INTEGRAL DU JUGEMENT PRONONCE PAR LA COUR EUROPEENNE DES DROITS DE L’HOMME (à STRASBOURG) LE 13 AVRIL 2010 DANS L’AFFAIRE OPPOSANT LE CITOYEN TUNISIEN MALEK CHARAHILI A LA REPUBLIQUE DE TURQUIE
La Cour de Strasbourg ordonne à la Turquie de ne pas extrader M. Malek Charahili en Tunisie et de payer environ 30000 Euros de dédommagements à l’intéressé.
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
CASE OF CHARAHILI v. TURKEY
(Application no. 46605/07)
13 April 2010
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case ofCharahili v. Turkey,
The European Court of Human Rights (Second Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Françoise Tulkens, President, Ireneu Cabral Barreto, Vladimiro Zagrebelsky, Danutė Jočienė, András Sajó, Işıl Karakaş, Nona Tsotsoria, judges, and Françoise Elens-Passos,Deputy Section Registrar,
Having deliberated in private on 23 March 2010,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
1. The case originated in an application (no. 46605/07) against the Republic of Turkey lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by a Tunisian national, Mr Malek Charahili (“the applicant”), on 25 October 2007.
2. The applicant, who had been granted legal aid, was represented by Mr. Abdulhalim Yılmaz, a lawyer practising in Istanbul. The Turkish Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent.
3. On 26 October 2007 the acting President of the Chamber to which the case had been allocated decided, in the interests of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings before the Court, to indicate to the Government of Turkey, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, that the applicant should not be deported to Tunisia until further notice.
4. On 1 September 2008 the President of the Second Section decided to give notice of the application to the Government. It was also decided that the admissibility and merits of the application would be examined together (Article 29 § 3) and that the case would be given priority (Rule 41).
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1986 and is currently held in the Kırklareli Foreigners’ Admission and Accommodation Centre in Turkey.
A. The applicant’s arrival in Turkey and the criminal proceedings brought against him there
6. In 2003 the applicant left his home country and, via Libya, arrived in Syria, where he received religious training. Six months after his arrival in Syria, the applicant was detained for two months under the Syrian Government’s policy of detaining and deporting nationals of North African countries. After his release from detention in Syria, the applicant left that country in March 2005 and arrived in Istanbul. He then went to Hatay, a province in the south of Turkey, where he began working. His identity documents were stolen and subsequently the applicant obtained a false passport.
7. On 15 August 2006 the applicant was arrested by police officers from the anti-terrorist branch of the Hatay police headquarters on suspicion of membership of an international terrorist organisation, namely Al-Qaeda. The search carried out in the apartment he had shared with another person revealed some materials used for manufacturing bombs. During his questioning by the police, in the presence of an interpreter, the applicant stated that he was not a member of Al-Qaeda but of Ennahda, an illegal organisation in Tunisia.
8. On 17 August 2006 the applicant made statements before the Adana public prosecutor and subsequently the Adana Magistrate’s Court, which remanded the applicant in custody.
9. On 18 August 2006 the applicant lodged an objection against the detention order, which was dismissed on the same day.
10. On 14 September 2006 the Adana public prosecutor filed a bill of indictment with the Adana Assize Court charging the applicant with membership of Al-Qaeda under Article 314 of the Criminal Code and section 5 of Law no. 3713. In the indictment the public prosecutor noted,inter alia, that an arrest warrant had been issued in respect of the applicant in Tunisia for membership of Ennahda and that the applicant had left his country for that reason in 2003.
11. On 25 September 2006 the Adana Assize Court allowed the bill of indictment lodged against the applicant and decided to hold the first hearing on the merits of the case on 9 November 2006.
12. On 9 November 2006 the applicant made statements before the Assize Court. He contended,inter alia, that he did not have any connection with Al-Qaeda and that the material found in his apartment did not belong to him but to his flatmate.
13. On 25 January 2007 the applicant’s representative requested the first-instance court to order the applicant’s continued detention. He submitted in this respect that the applicant had applied to both the Turkish authorities and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to be granted refugee status and that, if he were released, he might be deported to Tunisia. The applicant himself also requested that he be kept in detention until the outcome of his application for refugee status. On the same day, the Assize Court ordered the applicant’s continued detention, taking into consideration the nature of the offence and the applicant’s request.
14. On 12 April 2007 the Adana Assize Court ordered the applicant’s release pending trial.
15. On 19 February 2008 the Adana Assize Court acquitted the applicant of the charge of membership of Al-Qaeda.
16. Appeal proceedings are currently pending before the Court of Cassation.
B. Administrative proceedings
17. On 19 January 2007 the applicant applied to the Ministry of the Interior requesting asylum.
18. On 16 April 2007 the Ministry of the Interior dismissed this request. According to a document addressed to the Adana public prosecutor’s office by the Ministry of Justice on 24 April 2007, the applicant’s temporary asylum request was dismissed in view of the offences with which he had been charged and the fact that his presence in Turkey constituted a threat to public safety and public order. It was considered that the applicant had not been sincere in his request but had attempted to use the temporary asylum system in order to avoid deportation to Tunisia.
19. On 25 April 2007 the decision of the Ministry was served on the applicant. In the documents so served, he was told that he could lodge an objection with the Ministry against this decision within two days.
20. On an unspecified date the applicant objected to the decision of 16 April 2007. On 18 May 2007 he was notified that the Ministry had dismissed his objection. The decisions of 25 April and 18 May 2007 were served by a police officer who spoke Arabic.
21. In the meantime, on 3 May 2007 the applicant was recognised as a refugee under the UNHCR’s mandate.
22. On 16 October 2007 the applicant was served with a deportation order.
23. On 17 October 2007 the applicant addressed a petition to the Adana police headquarters. He maintained that his request for temporary asylum had been rejected on 18 May 2007 and that he had learned that he would soon be deported to Tunisia. The applicant requested that his deportation be suspended since his lawyer intended to challenge the deportation order before the administrative courts.
24. On the same day the applicant’s lawyer lodged an application with the Supreme Administrative Court. He requested the setting-aside of the decision rejecting the applicant’s asylum request. The applicant’s representative further requested the setting-aside of the deportation order.
25. On 26 October 2007 the applicant’s representative filed a petition with the Adana police headquarters and informed the latter of the application he had lodged with the Supreme Administrative Court. He requested the police not to deport the applicant.
26. On 26 October 2007 the Supreme Administrative Court decided that it did not have jurisdiction over the case and transferred the petition to the Ankara Administrative Court.
27. On 14 February 2008 the Ankara Administrative Court requested the Ministry of the Interior to submit a copy of all documents relating to the applicant’s case.
28. On 20 March 2008 the Ankara Administrative Court, after receiving the documents concerning the applicant, rejected the application, holding that the applicant had not complied with the time-limit of sixty days stipulated in the Administrative Procedure Act (Law no. 2577). The first-instance court held that the applicant had been notified of the Ministry’s decision rejecting his temporary asylum request and ordering his deportation on 18 May 2007, and that the applicant should have challenged this decision by 17 July 2007 at the latest. The court noted that the applicant’s petition dated 17 October 2007 to the Adana police headquarters and his application to the Court would not stop the running of the sixty-day time-limit.
29. On 20 June 2008 the applicant’s representative lodged an appeal against the decision of 20 March 2008. In his petition, the representative noted that the Ministry’s decision rejecting the applicant’s objection had not been served on his lawyer, who had found the document dated 25 April 2007 in the criminal case file by chance.
30. On 3 July 2008 the applicant’s representative was informed by the president of the Ankara Administrative Court that he had failed to pay the court fees and that he had to pay a total of 161.80 Turkish liras (TRY) by postal order within fifteen days. The representative was warned that if he failed to pay this sum, the applicant would be deemed to have waived his right of appeal.
31. On 11 August 2008 the applicant’s representative effected the postal order and paid TRY 162.
32. On 24 October 2008 the Ankara Administrative Court decided that the applicant had waived his right of appeal since his representative had failed to pay the Court fees despite the warning.
33. On 12 January 2009 the applicant’ representative appealed against the decision of 24 October 2008, claiming that he had paid the fees. He submitted a copy of the postal order in support of his petition.
34. On 2 February 2009 the Ankara Administrative Court informed the applicant that his representative had failed to pay the Court fees in relation to his appeal dated 12 January 2009.
35. On 4 March 2009 the applicant’s lawyer paid TRY 175 in court fees by way of a postal order.
C. The applicant’s placement in the Fatih police station
36. Following the decision of the Adana Assize Court of 12 April 2007 to release the applicant pending trial, the applicant was not released but was taken to the foreigners’ department at the Adana police headquarters.
37. On 12 April 2007 the applicant was transferred to the Fatih police station in Adana.
38. On 12 December 2007 the applicant’s representative sent a request to the General Police Headquarters for the applicant to be released from detention. In his request he noted that the applicant was being detained in a small cell and that on 26 October 2007 the European Court of Human Rights had indicated to the Turkish Government that the applicant should not be deported to Tunisia until further notice.
39. The applicant’s representative received no reply to his request.
40. Subsequently, on 12 March 2008 he filed a complaint with the Adana public prosecutor’s office against the Minister of the Interior, the Adana Governor, the Adana police director, the director of the foreigners’ department at the Adana police headquarters and the director of the Fatih police station. He requested the public prosecutor’s office to initiate an investigation into the persons concerned, alleging that they had unlawfully deprived the applicant of his liberty and that his detention in a small cell for ten months constituted ill-treatment. The representative noted in his request that there was no legal basis on which to detain the applicant, since asylum seekers were normally given temporary residence permits in Turkey. He further submitted that the ventilation was inadequate in the cell. The applicant was completely isolated and there was no provision for outdoor exercise. Moreover, the applicant did not have access to a doctor. In particular, when he had had a toothache he was denied access to a dentist and had to take the medication that was given to him by police officers.
41. On 16 April 2008 the Adana public prosecutor decided not to bring criminal proceedings against the Minister of the Interior, holding that he had not committed any offence as the applicant was being detained by the police with a view to his deportation.
42. On 23 September 2008 the public prosecutor at the Court of Cassation decided not to process the request from the applicant’s lawyer to bring proceedings against the Adana governor.
43. On the same day the applicant’s representative wrote to the department responsible for aliens, borders and asylum attached to the General Police Headquarters, to the Adana police headquarters and to the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Parliament, requesting that his client be released from the Fatih police station.
44. In the meantime, between 1 October 2007 and 3 November 2008 the applicant was examined and prescribed treatment at the Adana hospital on seven occasions. He was examined by an ophthalmologist, a dentist and a general practitioner in relation to his respiratory problems.
45. On 7 November 2008 the applicant was transferred to the Kırklareli Aliens’ Admission and Accommodation Centre.
46. On 12 January 2009 the President of the Human Rights Commission of the Turkish Parliament sent a reply to the applicant’s representative informing him that the applicant was being detained pending the deportation procedure and that he had been transferred to the Kırklareli Foreigners’ Admission and Accommodation Centre.
D. Criminal proceedings brought against the applicant in Tunisia
47. On an unspecified date criminal proceedings were brought against the applicant and twelve other persons in Tunisia on charges of membership of a terrorist organisation, aiding and abetting the organisation and providing financial support to that organisation. According to a document translated from Arabic into Turkish by the applicant, on 12 January 2008 a Tunisian criminal court convicted him of membership of an illegal organisation and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment.
II. RELEVANT LAW AND PRACTICE
A. Domestic law and practice
48. A description of the relevant domestic law and practice can be found in the case ofAbdolkhani and Karimnia v. Turkey (no. 30471/08, §§ 29-44, 22 September 2009).
B. International materials
1. Standards of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the CPT”)
49. The CPT standards concerning the conditions of detention of foreign nationals (see the CPT standards, document no. CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1- Rev. 2006, page 40) provide, in so far as relevant, as follows:
“… In certain countries, CPT delegations have found immigration detainees held in police stations for prolonged periods (for weeks and, in certain cases, months), subject to mediocre material conditions of detention, deprived of any form of activity and on occasion obliged to share cells with criminal suspects. Such a situation is indefensible.
The CPT recognises that, in the very nature of things, immigration detainees may have to spend some time in an ordinary police detention facility. However, conditions in police stations will frequently – if not invariably – be inadequate for prolonged periods of detention. Consequently, the period of time spent by immigration detainees in such establishments should be kept to the absolute minimum.”
2. Documents relating to the situation of Ennahda members in Tunisia
50. A description of reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch relating to the situation of Ennahda members can be found inSaadi v. Italy [GC] (no. 37201/06, §§ 65-79, ECHR 2008-…).
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLES 2 AND 3 OF THE CONVENTION IN RELATION TO THE DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS
51. The applicant complained under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention that his removal to Tunisia would expose him to a real risk of death or ill-treatment.
The Court finds it more appropriate to examine the applicant’s complaint from the standpoint of Article 3 of the Convention alone (seeAbdolkhani and Karimnia, cited above, § 62;NA. v. the United Kingdom, no. 25904/07, § 95, 17 July 2008;Said v. the Netherlands, no. 2345/02, § 37, ECHR 2005-VI).
52. The Court notes that this part of the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
53. The Government submitted that the applicant’s request for temporary asylum had been examined and rejected by the competent authorities. They noted in this connection that the applicant had entered Turkey illegally and had omitted to request asylum for several years. Moreover, he was accused of being a member of the terrorist organisations Ennahda and Al-Quada. They maintained that the Ministry of the Interior had decided on the applicant’s request taking into consideration the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention, the provisions of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the UNHCR’s decision to recognise the applicant as a refugee. The Government concluded that the applicant’s removal to Tunisia would not expose him to any risk.
54. The applicant contended that he had been convictedin absentia and sentenced to imprisonment in Tunisia for membership of Ennahda, which was not an armed group. He maintained that the reports by international non-governmental organisations showed that terrorist suspects were subjected to widespread torture and ill-treatment.
55. The Court observes that the applicant claimed that he was a member of Ennahda and submitted a document according to which he had been convicted of membership of a terrorist organisation in Tunisia and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The Court further observes that the Government did not challenge the veracity of these allegations. Moreover, when the applicant was accused of being a member of Al-Qaeda in Turkey, the Adana public prosecutor noted that an arrest warrant had been issued against the applicant in Tunisia as he was suspected of membership of Ennahda. The Court therefore finds no reason to doubt that the applicant was a member of Ennahda in Tunisia.
56. In this connection the Court recalls that, in the aforementionedSaadi judgment, it observed that the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Tunisia described a disturbing situation. It noted that those reports mentioned numerous and regular cases of torture and ill-treatment meted out to persons accused of terrorism (seeSaadi, cited above, § 143). The Court sees no ground to depart from its findings in the above-mentionedSaadi judgment in the present case.
57. Furthermore, the Government failed to submit any document to the Court demonstrating that the applicant had been interviewed in relation to his temporary asylum request or that the national authorities had indeed examined his request taking into account the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention, as claimed. In addition, the applicant’s case was not subjected to judicial review since the Ankara Administrative Court dismissed his application as time-barred, although the applicant had been served with a deportation order on 17 October 2007. The Court is unable to ascertain whether the Ministry of the Interior failed to submit that document for inclusion in the file of the case before the Ankara Administrative Court, or whether the latter did not take into account the fact that the applicant had actually been served with a deportation order when the application was lodged. Moreover, his lawyer’s appeal requests were dismissed on the ground that he had failed to pay the court fees, although he had done so. In sum, not only did the administrative authorities fail to interview the applicant, but the latter was also deprived of the right to an examination by the judicial authorities of the merits of his claim that he was at risk in Tunisia.
58. The only document relating to the examination of the applicant’s temporary asylum request is the letter dated 24 April 2007 sent by the Ministry of Justice to the Adana public prosecutor’s office. According to that document, the applicant’s temporary asylum request was rejected by the administrative authorities on the grounds that he had been charged with terrorist-related crimes and that he posed a threat to public safety and public order (paragraph 18 above). In this connection the Court reiterates the absolute nature of Article 3 of the Convention: it is not possible to weigh the risk of ill-treatment against the reasons put forward for the expulsion in order to determine whether the responsibility of a State is engaged under Article 3, even where such treatment is inflicted by another State. The conduct of the person concerned, however undesirable or dangerous, cannot be taken into account (see Chahal v. the United Kingdom, 15 November 1996, § 81,Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-V;Saadi, cited above, § 138; Abdolkhani and Karimnia, cited above, § 91).
59. Besides, the Court must give due weight to the UNHCR’s conclusions as to the applicant’s claim regarding the risk which he would face if he were to be removed to Tunisia (seeJabari v. Turkey, no. 40035/98, § 41, ECHR 2000-VIII;N.A. v. the United Kingdom, cited above, § 122;Abdolkhani and Karimnia, cited above, § 82). In this connection the Court observes that, unlike the Turkish authorities, the UNHCR interviewed the applicant and tested the credibility of his fears and the veracity of his account of circumstances in his country of origin. Following this interview, it found that the applicant risked being subjected to ill-treatment in his country of origin.
60. The Court finds in these circumstances that the evidence submitted by the parties, together with the material obtainedproprio motu, is sufficient for it to conclude that that there is a real risk of the applicant being subjected to treatment contrary to Article 3 of the Convention if he were to be removed to Tunisia. The Court also notes in this connection that the Government have not put forward any argument or document capable of casting doubt on the applicant’s allegations concerning the risks he might face in his country of origin (seeAbdolkhani and Karimnia, cited above, § 90).
61. Consequently, the Court concludes that there would be a violation of Article 3 of the Convention if the applicant were to be removed to Tunisia.
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 5 § 1 OF THE CONVENTION
62. The applicant complained under Article 5 of the Convention that his detention without a legal basis, despite the order of the Adana Assize Court for his release pending trial and his acquittal, had been unlawful.
63. The Court notes that this part of the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
64. The Government submitted that the applicant’s detention was based on section 23 of Law no. 5683 and section 4 of Law no. 5682 and that he was being held pending deportation proceedings in accordance with Article 5 § 1 (f) of the Convention.
65. The applicant submitted that his detention did not have a sufficient legal basis in domestic law.
66. The Court reiterates that it has already examined the same grievance in the case ofAbdolkhani and Karimnia (cited above, §§ 125-135). It found that in the absence of clear legal provisions establishing the procedure for ordering and extending detention with a view to deportation and setting time-limits for such detention, the deprivation of liberty to which the applicants had been subjected was not “lawful” for the purposes of Article 5 of the Convention.
67. The Court has examined the present case and finds no particular circumstances which would require it to depart from its findings in the aforementionedAbdolkhani and Karimnia judgment.
There has therefore been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE APPLICANT’S DETENTION
68. The applicant complained under Article 3 of the Convention that he had been detained in the Fatih police station for almost twenty months in poor conditions and that the medical assistance provided for him during his detention had been insufficient.
A. Medical assistance
69. The Government submitted that the applicant had been provided with the appropriate medical assistance for his state of health. In support of their claim, the Government submitted a number of documents demonstrating that the applicant had been examined by doctors.
70. The Court observes that between 1 October 2007 and 3 November 2008 the applicant underwent a number of medical examinations while he was being held in the Fatih police station and received medical treatment. In particular, he was examined by a general practitioner in relation to respiratory problems. He was also examined by an ophthalmologist and a dentist. On each occasion, he was prescribed medication or treatment (see paragraph 44 above).
71. Given that the authorities ensured that the applicant received sufficiently detailed medical examinations and that he was provided with appropriate treatment, the Court concludes that he did have access to adequate medical assistance. It therefore concludes that this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.
B. Conditions of detention
72. The Court notes that this part of the application is not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. It further notes that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
73. The Government submitted that the applicant had not been detained in the Fatih police station as alleged but had been kept in the guesthouse which was located in the basement of that station. In the basement there were six rooms that were never locked and a common area where the foreign nationals could watch television. There was hot water twenty-four hours a day and a public telephone. The rooms had air conditioning and the detainees could go out and play football in the yard of the police station. The Government further noted that the room in which the applicant had been kept measured 20.58 square metres.
74. The applicant submitted that he had been detained at the Fatih police station for nineteen months and twenty-six days. The room where he was held was dirty and had serious ventilation problems as it was in the basement of the building. He further maintained that the room was twelve square metres and was designed to accommodate ten persons. However, sometimes twenty-five persons were held there at the same time, meaning that two or three persons had to share single beds. The applicant claimed that he had been able to go out into the yard of the police station only twice.
75. The Court reiterates that, under Article 3 of the Convention, the State must ensure that a person is detained in conditions which are compatible with respect for his or her human dignity, that the manner and method of the execution of the measure do not subject the detainee to distress or hardship of an intensity exceeding the unavoidable level of suffering inherent in detention and that the individual’s health and well-being are adequately secured. When assessing conditions of detention, account has to be taken of the cumulative effects of those conditions and the duration of the detention (seeDougoz v. Greece, no. 40907/98, § 46, ECHR 2001-II, andKalashnikov v. Russia, no. 47095/99, § 102, ECHR 2002-VI).
76. In the present case, the Court observes at the outset that the applicant was detained in the basement of a police station between 12 April 2007 and 7 November 2008, that is, for almost twenty months, before being transferred to Kırklareli Foreigners’ Admission and Accommodation Centre. The Court further observes that the Government claimed that the basement of Fatih police station was not an ordinary police detention facility but a “guesthouse”, a place designated for the detention of foreign nationals. However, the respondent Government did not submit any documentary evidence in support of their submissions regarding the living conditions there and thus failed to substantiate the alleged difference between the basement of the police station and the rest of the building. The Court therefore accepts that the applicant was detained for almost twenty months in an ordinary police detention centre designed to hold persons in police custody for a maximum period of four days in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure.
77. In this connection the Court notes that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has emphasised that, although immigration detainees may have to spend some time in ordinary police detention facilities, given that the conditions in such places may generally be inadequate for prolonged periods of detention, the period of time spent by immigration detainees in such establishments should be kept to the absolute minimum. While the Court cannot verify the veracity of all the applicant’s allegations regarding the conditions of detention at the Fatih police station, it is certain that he was kept in the basement of the station. Therefore and having regard, in particular, to the inordinate length of time for which he was detained at the Fatih police station, the Court considers that the conditions of detention in the basement of the police station amounted to degrading treatment contrary to Article 3.
78. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the conditions of the applicant’s detention.
IV. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION
79. The applicant complained under Article 5 of the Convention that he had not been provided with an interpreter whenhe wastaken into police custody on 15 August 2006. He further complained under Article 6 of the Convention that he had not had the assistance of an interpreter throughout the proceedings brought against him. The applicant maintained under Articles 6 and 13 of the Convention that neither the criminal proceedings brought against him nor the administrative proceedings before the Supreme Administrative Court had been concluded within a reasonable time. Relying on Article 8 of the Convention, the applicant contended that his remand in custody and his detention with a view to deportation constituted an unjustified interference with his right to respect for his private and family life. Finally, he submitted that the proceedings concerning the deportation order issued against him had been in violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 7.
80. Having regard to the facts of the case, the submissions of the parties and its finding of violations of Articles 3 and 5 § 1 of the Convention, the Court considers that it has examined the main legal questions raised in the present application. It concludes therefore that there is no need to give a separate ruling on the applicant’s remaining complaints under the Convention (see, for example,KamilUzun v. Turkey, no. 37410/97, § 64, 10 May 2007;Çelik v. Turkey (no. 1), no. 39324/02, § 44, 20 January 2009;Juhnke v. Turkey, no. 52515/99, § 99, 13 May 2008;Getiren v. Turkey, no. 10301/03, § 132, 22 July 2008;Mehmet Eren v. Turkey, no. 32347/02, § 59, 14 October 2008).
V. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
81. Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”
82. The applicant claimed 64,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage. He further claimed EUR 16,625 in respect of pecuniary damage for loss of income during the time spent in detention.
83. The Government contested these claims.
84. The Court does not discern any causal link between the violations found and thepecuniary damage alleged; it therefore rejects this claim. However, it considers that the applicant must have suffered non-pecuniary damage which cannot be compensated solely by the finding of violations. Having regard to the gravity of the violations and to equitable considerations, it awards the applicant EUR 26,000 for non-pecuniary damage.
85. The Court further considers, having regard to the particular circumstances of the case, to its finding of a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention and to the urgent need to put an end to that violation, that the respondent State must secure the applicant’s release at the earliest possible date (seeAssanidze v. Georgia [GC], no. 71503/01, §§ 201-203, ECHR 2004-II).
B. Costs and expenses
86. The applicant also claimed EUR 10,829 for the costs and expenses incurred before the domestic courts and for those incurred before the Court. In support of his claim, the applicant submitted invoices showing the payment of court fees at the national level, telephone bills, a copy of a plane ticket from Istanbul to Adana and an invoice showing the amount paid by the applicant to the lawyer who had represented him at the national level. He also submitted that his lawyer had spent a total of 21 days and 9 hours on the case, and submitted to the Court a time sheet in support of that request.
87. The Government contested this claim, noting that only costs actually incurred could be reimbursed.
88. According to the Court’s case-law, an applicant is entitled to the reimbursement of costs and expenses only in so far as it has been shown that these have been actually and necessarily incurred and were reasonable as to quantum. In the present case, regard being had to the documents in its possession and the above criteria, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sum of EUR 3,500 to cover costs under all heads, less the EUR 850 which the applicant received in legal aid from the Council of Europe (see paragraph 2 above).
C. Default interest
89. The Court considers it appropriate that the default interest should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT UNANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the complaints under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention (in relation to the deportation proceedings and to the applicant’s detention), as well as the complaint under Article 5 § 1 of the Convention, admissible and the complaint under Article 3 in relation to the alleged lack of medical assistance inadmissible;
2. Holds that the applicant’s deportation to Tunisia would be in violation of Article 3 of the Convention;
3. Holds that no separate issue arises under Article 2 of the Convention;
4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s detention at the Fatih police station and in the Kırklareli Foreigners’ Admission and Accommodation Centre;
5. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on account of the applicant’s detention at the Fatih police station;
6. Holds that there is no need to examine separately the applicant’s other complaints under Articles 5, 6, 8 and 13 of the Convention and Article 1 of Protocol No. 7;
(a) that the respondent State must secure the applicant’s release at the earliest possible date;
(b) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts to be converted into Turkish liras at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 26,000 (twenty-six thousand euros) in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus any tax that may be chargeable;
(ii) EUR 3,500 (three thousand five hundred euros) in respect of costs and expenses, less the EUR 850 (eight hundred and fifty euros) granted by way of legal aid, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicant;
(c) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;
8. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 13 April 2010, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Françoise Elens-Passos Françoise Tulkens Deputy Registrar President
(Source: Communication envoyée à TUNISNEWS par l’avocat turc Me Abdulhalim YILMAZ d’Istanbul le 29 avril 2010)
Nouvelles des libertés en Tunisie
1) Le prisonnier d’opinion Ryadh Ellouati commence une grève de la faim tandis que d’autres prisonniers de Mornaguia sont aussi en grève de la faim. Plusieurs prisonniers d’opinion actuellement à la prison de Mornaguia ont commencé une grève de la faim, notamment le prisonnier d’opinion Ryadh Ellaouati, depuis le samedi 24 avril 2010, pour exiger leur libération et protester contre les mauvais traitements qui leur sont infligés par l’administration de la prison, notamment contre la privation des droits élémentaires dont jouissent les prisonniers dans le monde, comme le droit à un lit, puisque les prisonniers d’opinion dorment à même le sol comme les prisonniers de droit commun, le droit aux soins et aux études et autres droits prévus par la loi tunisienne.
28 avril 2010
(IFEX-TMG) – Le 27 avril 2010 – Tandis que les membres du Groupe d’observation de la Tunisie (TMG) saluent la remise en liberté aujourd’hui de Taoufik Ben Brik, la coalition des défenseurs de la liberté de la presse dénonce les chefs d’accusation portés contre le journaliste Fahem Boukadous, dans lesquels elle voit une manœuvre politique dont le but véritable est de faire taire la critique des autorités tunisiennes. Le TMG est un groupe de plus de vingt organisations qui appartiennent au réseau de l’Échange international de la liberté d’expression (IFEX). Cinq groupes membres du TMG sont en mission en Tunisie cette semaine.
Une cour d’appel de la ville de Gafsa a reporté de nouveau aujourd’hui l’appel, par Boukadous, de la peine de quatre ans de prison prononcée contre lui pour « appartenance à une association criminelle » et « trouble à l’ordre public ». Boukadous devra donc attendre jusqu’au 18 mai avant de connaître le verdict, lorsque son appel sera entendu, après avoir subi hier une crise d’asthme qui a nécessité une présence médicale.
Journaliste à la station de télévision par satellite Al-Hiwar Al-Tunisi, Boukadous est entré dans la clandestinité en juillet 2008 après avoir découvert qu’il était recherché par les autorités tunisiennes pour répondre à des accusations découlant de sa couverture de manifestations qui se sont déroulées à Gafsa, une région minière du sud de la Tunisie. Il a été condamné en décembre 2008 à six ans de prison.
Boukadous est revenu en novembre 2009 pour contester la sentence en s’appuyant sur le fait qu’il a subi un procès in absentia. Un tribunal a cassé la décision précédente et a décrété la tenue d’un nouveau procès pour répondre aux mêmes chefs d’accusation. En janvier de cette année, le journaliste a été trouvé coupable des chefs d’accusation et condamné à quatre ans de prison, mais il reste en liberté.
« Fahem Boukadous est puni par l’État pour n’avoir fait que son travail et avoir couvert des manifestations publiques contre le chômage et la corruption, » a dit Rohan Jayasekera de Index on Censorship, qui préside le TMG. « L’État n’aimait pas les nouvelles, alors il a ciblé le messager. Ce genre d’intimidation des médias indépendants doit cesser. »
Le journaliste et écrivain Taoufik Ben Brik, connu pour sa critique incisive du gouvernement tunisien, a été libéré le lendemain après avoir purgé une peine de six mois de prison pour des charges que l’on croit en général être fausses.
En raison de son travail, Ben Brik avait déjà dû subir des épisodes de détention et il avait été empêché de voyager hors de Tunisie, tandis que les membres de sa famille ont également subi à plusieurs occasions des mesures de harcèlement.
Ben Brik a été mis en garde à vue le 30 octobre 2009 parce qu’il aurait agressé une femme lors d’un incident de la circulation. Il a été condamné le 26 novembre à six mois de prison ferme pour « voies de fait », « destruction délibérée de biens » et « atteinte aux bonnes mœurs ».
Les groupes de défense de la liberté de la presse, dont des membres du TMG, ont dénoncé non seulement les conditions d’incarcération épouvantables subies par Ben Brik, mais aussi son arrestation éminemment politique et son procès inique. En janvier, tandis que la santé de Ben Brik se détériorait, les membres de sa famille ont entrepris une grève de la faim pour protester contre les conditions de vie à la prison. La peine de six mois a été maintenue en appel en février.
« Le TMG salue la libération de Ben Brik, mais il apparaît qu’il n’aurait jamais dû être mis en prison pour commencer, » dit Jayasekera.
La délégation du TMG en mission en Tunisie cette semaine se compose d’ARTICLE 19, de Index on Censorship, de l’Institut international de la presse, du PEN de Norvège et du Comité des écrivains en prison du PEN International.
Pour tout renseignement complémentaire:
Le groupe d’observation de la Tunisie
Rohan Jayasekera, Chair
c/o Index on Censorship
rj (@) indexoncensorship.org
tél: +44 20 7324 2522
Le groupe d’observation de la Tunisie
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Egyptian Organization For Human Rights
Index on Censorship
Fédération Internationale des Journalistes
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
International PEN Writers in Prison Committee
International Press Institute
International Publishers Association
Journaliste en danger
Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation)
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Association mondiale de radiodiffuseurs communautaires
Association Mondiale des Journaux et des Éditeurs de Médias d’Information
World Press Freedom Committee
La révolte contre la censure gronde sur la blogosphère et le net tunisien en général depuis quelques semaines. Les sites, blogs et profils Facebook censurés ou piratés ne se comptent plus. La frénésie à un rythme jamais vu auparavant dans le pays qui s’est emparé des censeurs pose plus d’un questions sur la razzia décidé contre tout esprit critique ou divergence avec le système Ben Ali.
Mais ce qui s’est passé aujourd’hui a montré que la blogosphère est le principal objectif dans le collimateur de la censure. Ainsi une dizaine de blogs au moins ont été censurés durant les dernière 24 heures :
- Trapboy :http://trapboy.blogspot.com/
- Stupeur : http://blog.kochlef.com/
- Bent 3ayla :http://bent-3ayla.blogspot.com/
- Artartticuler : http://artartticuler.blogspot.com/
- Antikor : http://antikor.blogspot.com/
- Patriote Tunisien:http://patriotetunisien.blogspot.com/
- Revolution Tunisie : http://revolutiontunisie.wordpress.com/
- Arabsta :http://arabasta1.blogspot.com
- Normal land : http://ounormal.blogspot.com/
quelques jours auparavant le site et le blog du journal tunisien d’opposition “Attariq al Jadid” ont été censures « Les sites de notre blog, « les Amis d’Attariq » (http://amisattariq.blogspot.com/) , et du journal Attariq Al Jadid (http://www.attariq.org/) sont inaccessibles en Tunisie depuis le vendredi 23 avril dernier. Nous n’avons aucune explication à ce verrouillage soudain de l’accès à ces sites. Nous appelons nos amis blogueurs et facebookers à la mobilisation pour le retour des ces sites de la pensée libre et progressiste. » annonçait le mouvement attajdid Parti d’opposition légal.
Depuis hier la plateforme « Nawaat » avait disparue totalement de la toile. Le site Nawaat (http://www.nawaat.org) a été piraté et sont contenu totalement détruit à l’image de ce qui s’est produit à TUNISIA Watch pour son blog (http://tunisiawatch.rsfblog.org) il y a quelques mois le blog d’Astrubal attaché à Nawaat .
L’hécatombe ne s’est pas arrêté aux blog et sites Tunisiens, « Le site Internet du Nouvel Observateur censuré en Tunisie » écrit aujourd’hui le célèbre site français :« NouvelObs.com paye pour son traitement de l’information au sujet de l’emprisonnement du journaliste et opposant politique Taoufik Ben Brik.
« 404 Not Found, the request URL (http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com) was not found on this server » ( « l’adresse URL demandée n’a pas été trouvée sur ce serveur »), voici le message que voient apparaître sur leurs écrans, depuis plusieurs jours-– plusieurs semaines selon certaines sources – les internautes qui cherchent à accéder au site Internet du Nouvel Observateur depuis la Tunisie. Celui-ci a été censuré.
(Source : le blog « TunisiaWatch » (censuré en Tunisie), le 27 avril 2010)
Posted By Sami Ben Gharbia On April 28, 2010 @ 7:50 pm
Tunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr , the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked  today, April 28th, 2010.
Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv , metacafe.com  and vidoemo.com  are not welcome aymore in the country. In early April, 2010, WAT.TV , another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France , has also been blocked .
The targeting of video-sharing websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion , then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned  from the country’s Internet on November 2nd, 2007.
On it’s posterous  page, Nawaat.org  has published an updated list of the banned video-sharing websites  in the country, stating that:
These video sharing websites are illegaly blocked in Tunisia (no judicial decision has ordered them). This is done by violating, inter alia, the article 8 of the Tunisian Constitution and article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
At least 11 more blogs censored on the same day
Yesterday, April 27, 2010, Tunisia has blocked access to at least 11 blogs because of their criticism against the government and its censorship policy:
Prior to that, and between April 21 and April 23, 2010, two Tunisian blogs aggregators  have ben blocked , tuniblogs.com  and tunisr.com .
And, on April 23, 2010, Tunisia blocked two online platforms of the opposition Ettajdid party (legal, former communist party) « les Amis d’Attariq  » (Friends of Attariq) blog  and the online weekly of the party Attariq al-Jadid  (The New Way) are now blocked.
Hacking of dissident blogs
The website of the online campaign Yezzi Fock Ben Ali!  (Enough is enough, Ben Ali!, which was blocked in Tunisia 18 hours after being launched in 2005) has been hacked again (first hack on November 7th, 2007), and it’s still down to this moment. As a security measure and in order to engage with the 1.4 million Tunisians users on Facebook, the campaign has moved to Facebook .
The same day (April 26, 2010) as the banning of critical blogs was carried out, another technique has been used to further muzzle the online free speech: the collective blog nawaat.org  and the personal blog of one of its admin, Astrubal , have been hacked , deleting their database and ftp files.
As we noted in a previous post about online free speech in Tunisia , “almost every single Tunisian opposition website and self-hosted blog has been the victim of one or more hacking incidents. While there is no solid evidence that the Tunisian regime is behind attempts to take down opponent websites, there is quite a strong feeling among Tunisian opposition figures that the government is carrying out cyber-attacks, given their frequency and the nature of the targeted websites and blogs.”
And on another note, it seems that Opera Mini for iPhone, launched on 14 April, 2010, is blocked in Tunisia. This is probably due to a bug in the Opera browser or to a ban of its build-in proxy. Here is a screenshot taken from Tunisia.
URL to article:http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2010/04/28/tunisia-flickr-video-sharing-websites-blogs-aggregators-and-critial-blogs-are-not-welcome
(Source: “Global Voices Advocacy”, le 28 avril 2010)
Par Moumneh Rasha
Lorsque le ministre des Affaires étrangères tunisien Kamel Morjane arrive à Washington le 26 avril, il va très certainement se présenter comme le représentant d’un Etat arabe «modéré» qui est amie de l’Occident. En tant que représentant de Human Rights Watch, cependant, j’ai récemment assisté à un autre aspect de cette soi-disant «modernité» du régime.
Mon organisation a publié le mois dernier un rapport détaillant le traitement de prisonniers politiques par le gouvernement tunisien, et un groupe d’entre nous a prévu de tenir une conférence de presse à Tunis, pour l’annoncer, dans l’espoir de susciter un dialogue qui conduirait à un changement. Il s’agissait d’une approche que nous avions essayé en 2004, lorsque nous avons publié un rapport sur la situation des prisonniers politiques, et en 2005, lorsque nous avons publié une étude sur les libertés d’Internet dans la région. Les deux versions ont eu lieu sans incident. Cette fois, cependant, nous avons trouvé que notre chemin est bloqué à chaque tour: Tous les hôtels que nous avons contactés ont déclaré qu’ils n’avaient pas l’espace pour nous loger, et la salle que nous avons finalement loué a été mystérieusement inondée pendant que nous étions à dîner. Le gouvernement interdit aux journalistes d’assister à notre conférence et a empêché physiquement ceux qui ont essayé d’y assister. Les agents de sécurité d’État nous ont suivis partout où nous allions.
Sous le Président Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, qui est au pouvoir depuis 1987 et a été réélu en 2009 juste pour un cinquième mandat, même la plus moindre dissidence est considérée comme une menace sérieuse. Les journalistes indépendants, organisations des droits humains, syndicalistes – toute personne qui soulève des préoccupations concernant les actions du gouvernement – trouvent leurs actions suivies et leur franc-parler punis.
La Tunisie tente souvent de cacher ses mesures répressives derrière un mince vernis de légalité, dans l’espoir de convaincre l’Occident de sa libéralité relative. Le gouvernement fait valoir, par exemple, qu’il n’ya pas de prisonniers politiques en Tunisie. Bien sûr, cela peut être vrai en vertu de l’interprétation très stricte du gouvernement de ce qui constitue un crime politique. Suivant cette ligne de raisonnement, il ya eu peu, le cas échéant, de personnes poursuivies en vertu des lois qui criminalisent les activités politiques ou d’opinion au cours des plusieurs mandats de Ben Ali – donc, pas de prisonniers politiques. Le gouvernement préfère poursuivre ses critiques en vertu de fausses accusations de crimes de droit commun.
Taoufiq Ben Brik, journaliste dissident qui a été une cible privilégiée du régime, est un cas d’espèce. En Octobre 2009, Ben Brik a été accusé de « violation de la décence publique », « diffamation », « agression » et « atteinte à la personne biens d’une autre», prétendument pour avoir agressé une femme. Il affirme que la victime était en réalité un agent de sécurité de l’Etat et affirme que c’est elle qui en fait l’a agressé alors qu’il était en route pour chercher sa fille à l’école. Le gouvernement a soigneusement élaboré un scénario qui non seulement renvoyé Ben Brik en prison, mais aussi remis en question son autorité morale.
J’été personnellement témoin de la même atmosphère d’intimidation en Mars, quand j’ai visité la Tunisie pour des recherches sur les efforts organisés par l’union syndicale de dans diverses régions du pays. Lors de ma visite, j’ai constaté que les syndicalistes indépendants subissent le même sort que les journalistes et les militants des droits humains. Comme pour la répression des dissidents politiques, la proscription par le gouvernement des activités syndicales sont rarement explicites: Sous l’aspect libéral la loi de la Tunisie des associations, en fait, ceux qui veulent former un syndicat ou une organisation non gouvernementales sont simplement tenus d’informer le gouvernement de leur intention. Si le ministère de l’Intérieur n’a pas d’objection dans les 90 jours, le nouveau syndicat ou ONG est considérée comme légale. Comment alors – en dépit d’une forte communauté de droits humaine – Y a-t-il seulement deux organisations des droits humains légalement reconnus et que deux syndicats dans tout le pays?
Voici où la fumée et des miroirs entrent en jeu. Pour enrayer la légalisation d’un nouveau syndicat, le gouvernement n’a besoin que de prétendre qu’il n’a jamais reçu son application. Pour cette raison, il ne donne jamais les candidats ayant obtenu un reçu qu’ils pourront utiliser comme preuve de leur soumission. Ce vide juridique permet au gouvernement d’affirmer que toutes les activités du syndicat nouvellement formé sont illégales.
Selon de nombreux syndicalistes, le gouvernement a déployé des efforts importants dans les années à maintenir les échelons supérieurs de l’organisation faîtière nationale, l’Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), loyal. Depuis que le gouvernement empêche les syndicats indépendants de l’obtention du statut juridique, ce qui donne effectivement le régime d’un monopole sur l’activité syndicale.
En retour, l’UGTT tient en laisse serrée sur ses membres indépendants plus. En 2008, les enseignants organisés dans le cadre UGTT a mené une lutte contre la corruption soulèvement de masse, qui a mobilisé des milliers de manifestants au cours d’une période de six mois. En réponse, l’UGTT expulsé du mouvement tous les dirigeants. Ils ont été rétablis qu’après la pression locale et internationale importante.
Le gouvernement tunisien a également fait ses preuves plus que disposés à se salir les mains quand il perçoit une menace pour son pouvoir. Le Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (NSTJ), la loi indépendant autorisé l’Union qu’à l’extérieur de l’UGTT après sa création en 2007, a obtenu Ali ire Ben en 2009, lorsque ses dirigeants ont annoncé que l’Union resterait neutre dans cette année-élections présidentielles et parlementaires. Les autorités ont riposté en concoctant un plan élaboré pour évincer le président du syndicat et son conseil d’administration et les remplacer par des journalistes pro-gouvernementaux.
Le gouvernement a eu recours à un barrage de la corruption, de menaces et de chantage visant à convaincre les journalistes de l’Union à signer une pétition pour demander le renvoi du conseil. les propriétaires de journaux ont été menacés par le retrait des annonces du gouvernement payés moins que leurs employés respectées. Ces annonces apporter des recettes pour cent de plus 600 pour les journaux privés que de la publicité – il est un moyen pratique de conserver rédacteurs de nouvelles en échec.
De nombreux journalistes qui ont refusé de soutenir le coup d’Etat ont été tirés. Le NSTJ la suite organisé des élections que les nouveaux dirigeants sont, évidemment, enlisé dans la corruption – la moitié des électeurs ne sont pas membres de l’Union même, laisser les journalistes seuls. Les revendications du gouvernement tunisien qu’il n’avait rien à voir avec la politique interne de l’Union et qu’il était une pure coïncidence que le nouveau conseil d’administration élu illégalement presque entièrement composé de journalistes fidèles au gouvernement de Ben Ali.
Malgré tous les efforts déployés Ben Ali pour cacher malhonnête méthodes de son gouvernement silence et à la dissidence d’annuler, la façade soigneusement élaboré de «moderne, démocratique et modérée » La Tunisie se défait aux coutures. Ceci est en grande partie Merci à la Tunisie systématiquement réprimé, persécuté, mais inlassables militants des droits humains.
Lorsque le ministre des Affaires étrangères vient de Washington, l’administration Obama Barack devraient faire pression sur lui et d’autres sur ces nombreuses questions, en précisant que mépris complet de la Tunisie pour les droits de ses citoyens doit changer. Le monde occidental doit beaucoup plus à la Tunisie assiégée défenseurs des droits humains, qui ont besoin de toute l’aide qu’ils peuvent obtenir.
(Source: “Foreign Policy” (Revue bimensuelle – USA), le 26 avril 2010)
Beneath the modern trappings of President Ben Ali’s regime lies just another repressive dictatorship.
BY RASHA MOUMNEH (*)
When Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane arrives in Washington on April 26, he will most certainly present himself as the representative of a « moderate » Arab state that is friendly to the West. As a representative of Human Rights Watch, however, I recently witnessed another side of this supposedly « modern » regime.
My organization released a report last month detailing the Tunisian government’s treatment of political prisoners, and a group of us planned to hold a press conference in Tunis to announce it, in the hopes of sparking a dialogue that would lead to change. This was an approach we had tried in 2004, when we released a report on the situation of political prisoners, and in 2005, when we published a study on Internet freedoms in the region. Both releases occurred without incident. This time, however, we found our path blocked at every turn: All of the hotels we contacted stated that they lacked the space to accommodate us, and the room we eventually rented was mysteriously flooded while we were at dinner. The government banned journalists from our news conference and physically barred those who tried to attend. State security agents followed us wherever we went.
Under President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who has held office since 1987 and was just reelected in 2009 for a fifth term, even the most minor dissent is treated as a serious threat. Independent journalists, human rights organizations, union organizers — anyone who raises concerns about the government’s actions — find their actions tracked and their outspokenness punished.
Tunisia often attempts to cover up its repressive measures behind a thin veneer of legality, hoping to convince the West of its relative liberality. The government contends, for example, that there are no political prisoners in Tunisia. Of course, that may be true under the government’s strict interpretation of what constitutes a political crime. Following that line of reasoning, there have been few, if any, people prosecuted under laws that criminalize political activity or opinion during Ben Ali’s multiple terms — hence, no political prisoners. The government prefers to prosecute its critics using trumped-up charges of common crimes.
Taoufiq Ben Brik, a dissident journalist who has been a favorite target of the regime, is a case in point. In October 2009, Ben Brik was charged with « violating public decency, » « defamation, » « assault, » and « damaging another person’s property, » allegedly for assaulting a woman. He claims the victim was actually a state security agent and maintains that it was she who in fact assaulted him as he was on his way to pick up his daughter from school. The government carefully crafted a scenario that not only landed Ben Brik in jail, but also called into question his moral standing.
I personally witnessed the same atmosphere of intimidation in March, when I visited Tunisia to research union organizing efforts in various parts of the country. During my visit, I found that independent unionists suffered the same fate as journalists and local human rights activists. As with the repression of political dissidents, the government’s anti-union activities are rarely explicit: Under Tunisia’s liberal law of association, in fact, those who wish to form a union or a non-governmental organization are simply required to inform the government of their intention. If the Interior Ministry does not object within 90 days, the new union or NGO is considered legal. How then — despite a robust human rights community — are there only two legally recognized human rights organizations and only two labor unions in the entire country?
Here’s where the smoke and mirrors come in. To halt the legalization of a new union, the government needs only to claim that it never received its application. For this reason, it never provides the applicants with a receipt that they can use as proof of their submission. This legal loophole allows the government to assert that all activities of the newly formed union are illegal.
According to many unionists, the government has expended great effort over the years to keep the upper echelons of the nationwide umbrella organization, the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), loyal. Since the government prevents independent unions from attaining legal status, this effectively gives the regime a monopoly over labor union activity.
In return, UGTT keeps a tight leash on its more independent members. In 2008, teachers organized under UGTT led a mass anti-corruption uprising, which involved thousands of protesters over a six month period. In response, the UGTT expelled all the movement’s leaders. They were reinstated only after substantial local and international pressure.
The Tunisian government has also proved itself more than willing to get its hands dirty when it perceives a threat to its power. The National Union of Tunisian Journalists (NSTJ), the only legally authorized independent union outside the UGTT following its inception in 2007, earned Ben Ali’s ire in 2009, when its leaders announced that the union would remain neutral in that year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The authorities retaliated by concocting an elaborate plan to oust the union’s president and his board and replace them with pro-government journalists.
The government resorted to a barrage of bribery, threats, and blackmail aimed at convincing journalists in the union to sign a petition calling for the board’s dismissal. Newspaper owners were threatened with the withdrawal of paid government announcements unless their employees complied. Those announcements bring in 600 percent more revenue for the newspapers than private advertising — it’s a handy way to keep news editors in check.
Many journalists who refused to support the coup were fired. The NSTJ subsequently held new leadership elections that were, predictably, mired in corruption — half the voters weren’t even union members, let alone journalists. The Tunisian government claims that it had nothing to do with the union’s internal politics and that it was pure coincidence that the new, illegally elected board consisted almost entirely of journalists loyal to Ben Ali’s government.
Despite Ben Ali’s best efforts to conceal his government’s dishonest methods to silence and quash dissent, the carefully crafted façade of « modern, democratic, and moderate » Tunisia is coming apart at the seams. This is in large part thanks to Tunisia’s systematically repressed, persecuted, but tireless human rights activists.
When the foreign minister comes to Washington, the Barack Obama administration should pressure him on these and many other issues, making it clear that Tunisia’s complete disregard for the rights of its citizens needs to change. The Western world owes far more to Tunisia’s beleaguered human rights advocates, who need all the help they can get.
(*) Rasha Moumneh is a Middle East and North Africa researcher for Human Rights Watch.
(Source: “Foreign Policy” (Revue bimensuelle – USA), le 26 avril 2010)
AFP, le 29 avril 2010 à 12h23
ANKARA, 29 avr 2010 (AFP) – Un procureur d’Ankara a rejeté un recours visant à interdire à la femme du Président et à celle du Premier ministre de porter le voile dans les sorties officielles, a rapporté jeudi la presse en Turquie, où le voile est interdit aux étudiantes et aux fonctionnaires.
La décision prise en début de semaine fait suite à un recours déposé par une association de femmes, selon lequel les deux Premières dames commettent un crime en se présentant avec le foulard islamique à des engagements officiels à l’étranger ou aux cérémonies marquant les fêtes nationales.
La Turquie, pays presque exclusivement musulman, est une république laïque dirigée par un gouvernement issu de la mouvance islamique.
Le procureur d’Ankara a estimé qu’il n’y a pas lieu d’enquêter ni de poursuivre puisque le code pénal ne qualifie pas ces transgressions supposées de crime.
Le port du voile est interdit aux fonctionnaires, aux étudiants et aux lycéens sur le lieu de leurs activités, de même que dans les locaux dépendant de l’institution militaire. Mais il n’y a pas d’interdiction dans la vie courante.
Mmes Hayrunnisa Gül, épouse du président Abdullah Gül, et Emine Erdogan, celle du Premier ministre Recep Tayyip Erdogan, portent le foulard.
Les défenseurs de la laïcité voient dans le port du voile un défi grandissant aux principes de la République turque.
Pour le parti au pouvoir AKP, il s’agit d’un choix personnel, et l’interdiction du voile viole la liberté de conscience.
En 2008, l’AKP avait présenté un amendement à la Constitution pour lever l’interdiction du voile à l’université. Une initiative rejetée par la justice, qui y avait vu une atteinte aux principes de laïcité.
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