EU ‘concerned’ by Tunisia arrests of civil society figures

The European Union on Tuesday expressed concern over a string of arrests of civil society figures in Tunisia.

Tunisian lawyers on Monday protested and launched a nationwide strike over the arrest of a lawyer and political commentator in a weekend police raid.

Tunisian authorities ordered Sunday the arrest of two political commentators over critical comments, a day after security forces stormed the bar association and took a third pundit into custody.

Lawyer Sonia Dahmani was arrested late Saturday after criticising the state of Tunisia on television.

“The European Union has followed with concern recent developments in Tunisia, in particular the concomitant arrests of several civil society figures, journalists and political actors,” an EU spokeswoman said.

“Freedoms of expression and association, as well as the independence of the judiciary, are guaranteed by the Tunisian Constitution and constitute the basis of our partnership.”

The clampdown is the latest sign of the authorities tightening control over the country since President Kais Saied began ruling by decree after a sweeping power grab in 2021.

Concern over the situation in Tunisia did not prevent the EU last year from inking a major cooperation deal with the North African state aimed at curbing the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean.

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