Tunisia: No to smear campaigns against civil society actors

The Tunisian authorities are, once again, engaging in campaigns to demonize independent institutions, so as to prepare public opinion for the adoption of a new law on associations, which aims to further restrict the scope of civil society organizations ‘action and undermine their autonomy, if not threaten their very existence.

Because they are close to the decision-making centers, those regime mouthpieces attack ,with total  impunity, activists known, both before and after January 14, 2011, for their commitment to a free and democratic Tunisia and to a more cohesive and just society, such as Kamel Jendoubi, President of the first independent higher authority for elections (ISIE) and Honorary President of EuroMed Rights and Ramy Salhi, Director of MENA region of EuroMed Rights, as well as associations and organizations known for their independence and their struggle for democracy over the past decades like  the Association for Democratic Women (ATFD) and Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) , both of which are subject to pressure and blackmail.

The orchestration of this campaign, which exploits the Palestinian cause for political ends, is taking place at a time when most Western governments are backing the Israeli attacks on Gaza while restricting the activities of associations that support the Palestinian cause and denounce the war crimes committed by the Israeli army. In France, for instance, there are restrictions on the Fédération des Tunisiens pour une Citoyenneté entre les deux rives (FTCR) and on other Independent associations.

The undersigned associations, organizations, and personalities:

  • Express their full support for the activists and associations targeted by these defamation campaigns ;
  • Hold the Tunisian authorities responsible for allowing these attacks on human rights activists and associations, whose only “crime” is to fight for the existence of a pluralist democratic society ;
  • Reject the draft law on associations, which calls into question civil society’s freedom of action and threatens its autonomy ;
  • Express their determination to pursue this struggle for freedom, democracy, and justice, despite all the restrictions currently being placed on it.

Associations and NGO’s signatories:

  • Committee for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia
  • Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights
  • Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
  • Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
  • Association of Tunisian Magistrates
  • EuroMed Rights
  • Legal Agenda
  • Federation of Tunisians for Citizenship on Both Shores
  • Perspectives Association-The Tunisian Worker
  • The Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Freedoms
  • National Commission for the Defense of Freedoms and Democracy
  • Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms
  • The Tawhida Ben Cheikh Group
  • Union of Tunisian Immigrant Workers
  • Soumoud Collective
  • International Solidarity LGBTQI
  • Association of Young Leaders of Tunisia
  • Pathways Association – Massarib
  • Beity Association


  • Messaoud Romdhani, human rights activist
  • Souhayer Belhassen, Honorary President, FIDH
  • Khadija Chérif, former president of ATFD
  • Mourad Allal, human rights activist
  • Alya Cherif Chammari, feminist activist
  • Khemais Chammari, human rights activist and former ambassador
  • Monia Ben Jemia, academic and human rights activist
  • Abdessatar Benmoussa, lawyer, former president of LTDH
  • Ayachi Hammami, lawyer, and human rights activist
  • Fradj Fenniche, former officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Jabeur Ouajah, human righst activist
  • Zied ElHeni, journalist
  • Hamadi Redissi, professor of political sciences
  • Wahid Ferchichi, Professor of Law, University of Carthage
  • Hechmi Ben Fredj, human rights activist
  • Souad Triki, sociologist and millitante
  • Jamel Msallem, Honorary President of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights
  • Amel Grami, academic
  • Raja Ben Slema, Professor of Higher Education