World Movement Steering Committee Statement Concerning the Erosion of Tunisian Democracy and Attack on Civil Liberties

July 25, 2023

July 25, 2023, marks the second anniversary of President Kais Saied’s self-coup in Tunisia. Since July 25, 2021, President Saied has systematically broken down the system of checks and balances, taking control over the legislative and judicial bodies, while shutting down other important democratic institutions such as the independent National Anti-Corruption Authority and the Supreme Judicial Council. President Saied’s imposition of a one-man rule in the country undermines the democratic aspirations of the Tunisian people and the progress made since the 2011 Arab Spring.

Tunisia, once a beacon of hope in the region, has not only witnessed the dismantling of the rule of law and the separation of powers in the past two years, but also experienced serious restrictions on civil liberties. Despite freedom of expression and press freedom being enshrined in the country’s Constitution, the Tunisian government has arbitrarily arrested journalists, activists, union members, and many political leaders who have publicly criticized President Saied. The government has also introduced new legislation, such as Decree No. 54, to silence civil society organizations and independent media. Additionally, Tunisian human rights groups have denounced the holding of military trials for civilians arrested under “conspiracy” or “terrorism” charges. Moreover, the Tunisian government has also issued a ban on peaceful demonstrations, violating Tunisian citizens’ constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

Despite these challenges, Tunisian civil society, independent media, activists, and unions, continue advocating for the return to democratic rule in their country. As Tunisia’s struggle for democracy continues, the Steering Committee of the World Movement stands in solidarity with Tunisian democracy advocates and joins them in calling on the international community to:

  • Urge the Tunisian government to end the practice of trying civilians in military courts and to return to credible, just, and independent judiciary practices.
  • Request immediate release of all political leaders and civil society activists detained on politically motivated grounds.
  • Support and encourage an inclusive and participatory dialogue process to address the country’s political and economic crises.
  • Amplify Tunisian pro-democracy voices advocating for putting a democratic transition process back on track through promoting and protecting human rights, civil liberties, the rule of law, an inclusive political process, freedom of speech, and separation of powers.