Amnesty International (AI) released a statement Thursday detailing cases of at least 50 people who were arbitrarily banned from traveling out of Tunisia over the last month.
AI records showed that president Kai Saied has made extensive use of travel bans in the first month since he assumed exceptional powers. AI stated that the number of people so detained could be much higher and includes judges, state officials, civil servants, businessmen, and a parliamentarian. None of the travelers were given a written explanation as to the cause of their ban nor were they given any judicial order to that effect. Moreover, they were not informed of the pendency of the bans.
Saied stated in a speech earlier this month that the bans are part of the wider efforts to prevent those accused of corruption from leaving the country. However, according to AI, none of the 50 individuals had any complaints or investigation pending against them. AI has termed this a flagrant usurpation of the judiciary and an arbitrary disregard of the people’s freedom of movement.
Under Tunisian Law no. 75-40, the prerogative of issuing travel bans is the sole preserve of judicial authorities. The law requires that the reasons for the ban be issued promptly and that an opportunity be given to the banned person to challenge the decision. AI stated that the verbal bans issued against the 50 individuals without a written decision undermines their ability to appeal against the ban.
AI urged the president to cease the use of arbitrary bans and to respect the people’s right to freedom as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both to which Tunisia is a signatory.
Tunisia has been in political turmoil for the last month following the president’s assumption of exceptional powers and the suspension of parliament.