The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Thursday condemned [press release] the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader and member of the National Constituent Assembly [official website], Mohamed Brahmi. Brahmi was shot dead [BBC report] outside his home in Tunis, sparking protests throughout the country. Pillay called upon Tunisian authorities to investigate the assassination and bring those responsible to justice. She also urged Tunisian authorities to better protect those like Brahmi who may be at risk of assassination, as such killings threaten to undermine Tunisia's efforts to formulate a new constitution. The assassination of Brahmi marks the second time in the past year that an opposition party leader has been killed in Tunisia, with Chokri Belaid being assassinated [JURIST report] in February.
Tunisia has faced political turmoil since president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] left office amid nationwide protests in 2011. In May Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Tunisia to modify its draft constitution [JURIST report] to ensure protection of human rights. Two months earlier HRW urged Tunisia to repeal its criminal defamation law [JURIST report], which is typically considered a civil offense throughout the world. That same month Tunisian lawmakers voted to approve [JURIST report] a timetable for its draft constitution and national elections. In October HRW called on Tunisian authorities to investigate a series of attacks [JURIST report] by religious extremists and to bring those responsible to justice.