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Tunisian LGBT activist imprisoned after reporting police harassment

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Mar 13, 2021

TUNIS, Tunisia — Human Rights Watch experiences {that a} Tunisian court docket sentenced LGBT rights activist Rania Amdouni to 6 months in jail March four and fined her 18 Tunisian dinars ($6.50) for shouting outdoors a police station after cops refused to register her harassment grievance. The rights group stated the ruling was appealed March 5.

“Tunisian authorities should ensure that complaints, including Amdouni’s, are handled confidentially and swiftly, following a clear procedure, and that people can submit complaints without fear of reprisals,” Human Rights Watch stated in its March 9 report.

On Feb. 27, Amdouni headed to a police station in downtown Tunis to file a grievance towards the directors of police unions’ Facebook pages that revealed her images and despatched her rape and dying threats. However, cops on the station refused to register her grievance.

Amdouni, 26, is a distinguished LGBT rights activist identified for her participation within the protests calling for democracy. She turned the goal of police unions after collaborating in protests condemning police repression in January.

One of Amdouni’s legal professionals, Mohamed Ali Bouchiba, who assumed her protection on behalf of the Damj Association for Justice and Equality, informed Al-Monitor that Amdouni is now in a ladies’s jail in Manouba, within the western a part of Greater Tunis, following the emergency ruling towards her. “Setting a date for an appeal in this miserable judiciary takes over a month, which means Amdouni would have served half her sentence by then,” he stated.

Bouchiba stated the officers within the police station refused to register Amdouni’s grievance about repeated harassment by officers from the police unions within the streets and on-line due to her sexual orientation and towards the backdrop of her participation in a protest towards the regulation criminalizing assaults on safety forces.

He stated the officers proceeded to harass her as she tried to file her grievance.

Human Rights Watch reported that one other lawyer for Amdouni, Hamadi Hanchiri, stated Amdouni then shouted on the road outdoors the station and cursed the Tunisian police system.

Bouchiba stated the general public prosecutor on the Court of First Instance in Tunis referred to her habits outdoors the station and accused her on March 1 of “verbally insulting an on-duty public official,” against the law punishable by as much as a 12 months in jail below Article 125 of the penal code, claiming she was in a “disorderly state.”

Bouchiba stated, “Amdouni had filed five complaints against people sending her threatening letters, but none were followed through. However, an emergency ruling was issued against her in less than 72 hours.”

Article 125 of the penal code stipulates that anybody who insults public officers, be it verbally or bodily, or threatens them, shall be punished with imprisonment for a 12 months and a high quality of 120 Tunisian dinars ($43.57). In a press release issued in July 2017, Human Rights Watch known as on the Tunisian parliament to take away this text as a result of it’s a flagrant violation of human rights.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi stated in a March Eight interview on Elhiwar El-Tounsi channel on the event of International Women’s Day that he sympathizes with Amdouni however can’t intrude with the judiciary. He did say, “I hope to see Amdouni outside prison walls.”

Speaking on the Midi Show on Mosaique FM on March 8, Bassam al-Tarifi, vice chairman of the Tunisian Human Rights League, stated Amdouni doesn’t deserve the six-month punishment, stressing that she shouldn’t be a prison however solely an activist who loves life. He blamed the Justice Ministry and the Interior Ministry for what is going on.

In a joint assertion March 7, 21 human rights organizations condemned Amdouni’s imprisonment, saying it’s a clear violation of authorized procedures. They harassed the necessity to instantly launch Amdrouni and drop the costs towards her, calling on authorities to respect the structure and to chorus from selectively implementing the legal guidelines on freedom of expression.

The Working Women Committee on the Tunisian General Labor Union revealed a press release March 7 marking International Women’s Day and calling for Amdouni’s launch. “She is a victim of police repression and failure to accept the right to be different,” the committee stated.

Naila Zoghlami, secretary-general of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women defending ladies’s rights, informed Al-Monitor that Amdouni has been subjected to a flagrant violation of her rights and authorized procedures. This proves that the Tunisian authorities’s claims that it’s dedicated to defending particular person freedoms are false, she stated, stressing that Tunisian authorities ought to examine police harassment.

“Tunisia has made important steps since the 2011 revolution that toppled the regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in the field of freedom of expression and human rights, but the security and police apparatus still needs more reforms,” Zoghlami added.

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