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Published on February 6th, 2013 | by esgaeble

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Tunisian Judiciary Independence Challenged by Arbitrary Detention of Fehri

By Emilee Gaebler
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

TUNIS, Tunisia –  A statement from Amnesty International, released last week on the 29th of January, calls for Tunisian authorities to release Sami Fehri.  Fehri is a TV producer and director of Ettounsiya Television.  He has been jailed since 28 August 2012.

Judges and lawyers gather outside the courthouse in Tunis to protest the shortcomings in the judiciary. (Photo Courtesy of Al-Monitor)

Fehri has been held unjustly since 28 November 2012, after Tunis’ highest court, the Cassation Court, overturned the decision of the Accusations Chamber of Tunis’ Court of Appeal to indict and detain him.  At that point Fehri should have been released but he was not.  On 5 December 2012, the Cassation Court confirmed their previous decision to overthrow the detention order and referred the case back to the Accusation Chamber of the Court of Appeals.

Based on this, Amnesty International recently released a public statement naming Fehri’s detention arbitrary and a breach of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).  They called for Tunisia to immediately release Fehri and that he be compensated for his arbitrary detention.

Fehri faces corruption charges for misappropriation of public funds.  He is accused of using public television funds to further his own company, Cactus Productions, that he previously co-owned with Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law to Tunisia’s former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

According to Amnesty’s public statement, “the fate of Sami Fehri underscores shortcomings in Tunisia’s justice system, including the independence of the judiciary.”

Since the success of the revolution almost two years ago, that overthrew President Ben Ali and made Tunisia a democratic nation, the judiciary branch of the nation has struggled to reform itself.  A newsletter, published on 8 January 2013, in Al-Monitor, asked, “Where are the honest, clean judges?”

The answer from one judge was, “Our hands are tied, are careers are threatened and intimidated. Some of us have blood on our hands and are trying to save our own hides by showing the new rulers that we are clean. Others have focused their careers on their mission, while some combine their personal political opinions with their duties. With all this, we can only be disunited and powerless in the face of these injustices and cases of abuse.”

 

For further information, please see:

Amnesty International - Tunisia: Release Arbitrarily Detained TV Producer Without Further Delay – 29 January 2013

Al-Monitor – Tunisian Judges Should Reject Corruption- 8 January 2013

Tunis Alive – Indictment Chamber Rejects Request for Sami Fehri’s Release – 3 January 201

Tunis Alive – TV Producer Sami Fehri Begins Indefinite Hunger Strike- 18 December 2012

Foreign Policy – The Godfather of Tunis – 25 May 2012


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