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Tunisia prepared to accept 10 Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] Tunisian Minister of Justice and Human Rights [official website, in French] Bechir Tekkari announced Tuesday that the country is prepared to accept the return of 10 Tunisians currently detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Tekkari said [AFP report] that Tunisia is capable of conducting fair trials and is "entirely happy to welcome [the detainees] and examine their penal situation according to legal procedures and under the principle of the presumption of innocence." The US has asked Italy to consider [AGI report] taking custody of two Tunisians currently held at Guantanamo and charged in Italy with connection to the Salifist Group for Preaching and Combat [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] rather than returning them to Tunisia. Italy has previously refused to accept [JURIST report] any Guantanamo detainees.

There has been some concern about the treatment the detainees would potentially face in Tunisia. In December, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) [advocacy website] release a report criticizing [JURIST report] worsening human rights situations in 12 Arab countries, including Tunisia. In June 2008, Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report [text; press release] accusing Tunisia of committing wide-spread human rights abuses under overly-broad anti-terrorism legislation, and criticizing the US, European and Arab countries for turning over terror suspects to Tunisian authorities [JURIST report] despite allegations of torture. In February 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the deportation [text, DOC] of a former Tunisian terrorism suspect, finding he would likely be subjected to torture [JURIST report] if returned to Tunisia. In September 2007, Human Rights Watch released a report [text; press release] accusing Tunisian officials of mistreating two former Guantanamo detainees [JURIST report] after they were returned to the country.

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