Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 19:32:52 -0600 (CST)
From: Ray Mitchell <RMITCHEL%AI-UK@amnesty.org.uk>
Subject: AI: Tunisia bulletin
Abdelmoumen BELANES, teacher
Jalal AYACHI, teacher, trade unionist
Fahem BOUKADDOUS, student
Amnesty International is concerned that the three men named above are detained incommunicado and may be at risk of ill-treatment.
They were arrested on 21 February 1999 in Tunis and have been held in secret detention since, reportedly in the Ministry of the Interior in Tunis. All three men have been previously arrested and detained as prisoners of conscience. Abdelmoumen Belanes and Jalal Ayachi still suffer the after-effects of the torture they were subjected to when they were detained before. Fahem Boukaddous suffer from a very serious form of asthma which requires constant medical supervision. He apparently had to be taken to hospital for treatment during his first night of detention, and was then taken back to the Ministry of the Interior.
Abdelmoumen Belanes’s wife, who is pregnant, was also arrested on 21 February, but was released without charge the following day.
On 21 February, after arresting Jalal Ayachi, the police searched his home without showing a search warrant, in the presence of his wife, and confiscated some books. Members of the security forces remained in the house until the following morning.
Boukaddous, who was wanted by the judicial authorities in connection with the cases of the 16 youths arrested in February and March 1999 (see UA 59/98 and updates) is reportedly due to be brought before the examining magistrate on 25 February. However, under Tunisian law anyone wanted by the judicial authorities in connection with a case must be brought before the examining magistrate immediately upon arrest, and he was not.
Abelmoumen Belanes, a former POC, was first sentenced to one year and five months’ imprisonment for membership of the Union de la jeunesse communiste (UJC), Young Communists’ Union, and participating in unauthorized meetings, in 1992. On 6 March 1997 he was arrested and charged with disturbing public order and sentenced in April 1997 to one year’s imprisonment. He was released in March 1998.
Left-wing activists face periodic arrest in Tunisia. Over the past year thousands of opponents and critics of the government have been detained as prisoners of conscience for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. They are often subjected to torture and ill-treatment, especially in the days immediately after arrest, when they are held in secret detention without access to their families, lawyers or anyone else in the outside world.