Tunisian journalist Arroi Baraket victim of police impunity

Press Release, Tunisia

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EuroMed Rights joins the call by Front Line Defenders and Minority Rights Group to drop all charges against Tunisian journalist Arroi Baraket.

On 17 September, Tunisian journalist and women’s rights activist Arroi Baraket was arrested by a police patrol for breaking the curfew. After paying the fine, she began filming vehicles that continued to drive without being stopped by the patrol despite the late hour.

One of the police officers then grabbed her phone and brutally attacked her. Arroi Baraket, who was not filming the police officers, reminded the officer of her right to film the street as a journalist. This remark earned her sexist insults from the officer. On 21 September, she filed a complaint about this attack with the Tunis public prosecutor. This complaint had still not been processed when she learnt, on 30 September, that she had been summoned to court on 22 October to answer the charge of “extreme violence against a public official“. A charge that could land her in jail for five years.

From being the victim of an assault by a public official, Arroi Baraket is now the victim of an attack by the judicial system on her status as a journalist and feminist activist.

A frequent issue

This incident is unfortunately far from isolated. Worse still, it is indicative of an institutional culture of violence and impunity on the part of the Tunisian police force, particularly towards women’s rights and LGBTQI+ rights defenders in Tunisia. Tunisian civil society organisations also note the increase in police violence since 25 July, the date the Parliament was frozen and the Head of Government dismissed by President Kais Saied.

This systemic violence, which contrasts sharply with the appointment last 29 September of Tunisia’s first female Head of Government, reminds us that a proactive policy in favour of women’s rights must, in order to be credible, respect the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

EuroMed Rights calls on the Tunisian authorities to drop the charges against Arroi Baraket and to immediately open an impartial investigation into the police officer who assaulted her.

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