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Tunisia must live up to promises to end impunity for security forces at UN Human Rights Council

The use of torture in custody and human rights violations committed in the name of security and counterterrorism will continue unabated unless Tunisia lives up to the commitments it has made today at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said Amnesty International. During today s session, the outcome of the third Universal Period Review of Tunisia s human rights record was adopted . The Tunisian authorities accepted 189 recommendations on how to improve the country s human rights record, including pledging to boost accountability for abuses by security forces, eliminate torture and other ill-treatment and ensure that counterterrorism and national security measures do not jeopardize human rights.

The commitments made by Tunisia today are a step in the right direction . But the government must swiftly implement these reforms if its promises of human rights progress are to be realised, said Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International. The commitments made by Tunisia today are a step in the right direction .

But the government must swiftly implement these reforms if its promises of human rights progress are to be realised

Heba Morayef, North Africa research director at Amnesty International

Two recent proposed bills have called into question the government s commitment to accountability . Last week Tunisia s parliament approved a controversial bill granting amnesty to officials accused of corruption under former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali s rule. Tunisia s pledges related to security sector reforms will be seriously undermined if the government goes ahead with a bill1, known as the Repression of attacks against armed forces bill , which would grant security forces immunity from prosecution for unnecessary use of lethal force and criminalize criticism of police conduct . The bill could be reintroduced in parliament as soon as next month.

Tunisia s promises to end impunity for the security forces will be meaningless if the authorities proceed with a bill that gives the security forces protection from prosecution for human rights violations . The authorities must demonstrate they are committed to keeping the promises they have made today by scrapping this bill immediately, said Heba Morayef.

Tunisia s promises to end impunity for the security forces will be meaningless if the authorities proceed with a bill that gives the security forces protection from prosecution for human rights violations

Heba Morayef, North Africa research director at Amnesty International

For years Amnesty International has called on the Tunisian authorities to step up their efforts to reform the security sector and to stamp out impunity . Yet since the 2011, the overwhelming majority of credible allegations of torture and other serious violations by security forces have not been independently and impartially investigated, and there have been only a handful of prosecutions. Out of 248 recommendations from more than 100 countries, Tunisia has adopted 189, acknowledged 55 and deferred 4 at its UN review session today. As part of their commitments, the Tunisian authorities have agreed to ensure all allegations of torture are impartially and effectively investigated.

In its February 2017 report Abuses under Tunisia s state of emergency Amnesty International highlighted how violations including torture, arbitrary arrest and restrictions on movement have been committed in the name of national security since the fall of President Ben Ali in 2011.

Tunisia must not squander this chance to adhere to its commitments under its own constitution and international human rights law by implementing the reforms it has pledged to uphold and delivering genuine human rights progress, said Heba Morayef. During a recent meeting with Amnesty International in Tunis, Tunisia s Minister of Relations with Constitutional Authorities, Civil Society and Human Rights, Mehdi Ben Gharbia, discussed the outcome of the UN human rights review . He emphasized that the government takes recommendations relating to physical integrity very seriously and that efforts to address torture are ongoing but that it is taking time to overcome the legacy of the Ben Ali era . He added that the authorities are also working hard to end forced anal examinations which are regularly carried out on men suspected of engaging in same-sex sexual relations . Amnesty International considers that these examinations amount to torture.

In this regard Amnesty International welcomed today Tunisia s acceptance of two recommendations to immediately cease the practice of forced anal examinations and ensure the protection of LGBTQI persons from all forms of stigmatization, discrimination and violence . However the organization deeply regrets Tunisia s rejection of 14 recommendations relating the decriminalization of same-sex relations by repealing article 230 of the Penal Code. During today s session Tunisia s authorities also committed to bringing national laws in line with the country s new constitution and international human rights standards . Amnesty International is now urging the authorities to expedite the long overdue process of establishing a constitutional court and to amend the country s penal code to ensure all articles relating to freedom of expression, association, torture and the death penalty are brought in line with international law.

Disappointingly, Tunisia rejected a recommendation to end military trials of civilians, in violation of international fair trial standards. This is the country s third Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council . Amnesty International delivered an oral statement at today s session, and ahead of it, submitted a report to the council highlighting the main human rights issues in the country as well as key recommendations.

References

  1. ^ bill (www.amnesty.org)

Caribbean Carnival security was tightened over ‘acid attack’ fears

An anonymous tip-off that an acid throwing attack was being planned at Nottingham’s Caribbean Carnival1 was behind increased security at the event. After a police tip-off, the organisers of the event on Sunday (August 20) took measures to tighten security around food and drink being brought into the area. The decision not to allow anyone to bring any food or drink into the carnival meant extra queues for people attending, but the event ultimately passed off peacefully.

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A statement was released following the carnival by the organisers explaining the situation, which said: “We are very aware of the difficulties people faced on entering the site and we want to apologise for the inconvenience caused.

“However, the police did inform us just before the start of the event that information had come to their attention that an acid attack was being planned at the carnival . This meant that security had to be much tighter around food and drink . Acid can come in many forms, not just a liquid, and this was the reason for the thoroughness of the searches.

“We shared the fact that food and drink was no longer allowed, via our social media, as soon as we could . We acted to keep the public safe and we were successful in this aim.

“Nonetheless, people had to queue for too long and were rightly upset to not be allowed entry with food . We are sincerely sorry to everyone affected – especially those with young children . We know how frustrating this was for you and take full responsibility for the upset this caused.”

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A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: “Nottinghamshire Police received information from an anonymous source about the Caribbean Carnival.

“The information was uncorroborated, extremely vague and did not relate to the event’s location, as such it was not considered an immediate threat to the event.

“As a precaution, the event organisers were made aware of the information and they took the decision to stop people taking liquids into the event.

“Officers working during the event were also briefed to be vigilant to any suspicious activity.

“The event went ahead without any incident of this nature occurring . The Caribbean Carnival is an important event in Nottingham s multi-cultural calendar and the police have worked very hard providing advice to the event organisers to ensure that the carnival is safe for all to attend.

“Officers had a very enjoyable time at the event interacting with the carnival-goers and supporting the security on site.”

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The beefed-up security was not the only hitch on the day . Musician Horace Andy had been due to play but had been too unwell to make his flight from Jamaica to attend. But overall, organisers hailed the event a success.

A spokesman said: “The parade was well received and those who witnessed it on the route got into the carnival vibe; the site layout within the park was much improved; the weather behaved itself until the last 20 minutes and finally the volunteers rallied round to best address the challenges that we faced.

“Thank you so much for supporting the Nottingham Carnival 2017.”

References

  1. ^ Nottingham’s Caribbean Carnival (www.nottinghampost.com)

Spain to boost security after Barcelona and Cambrils attacks

Spanish officials are to boost security at crowded areas and sites popular with tourists following two attacks in the country. The attacks, both claimed by the Islamic State group, left 13 people dead in Barcelona and one woman dead in Cambrils. There are 53 people still in hospital, 13 of them in a critical condition, while another 78 people have been released after treatment.

Image: Thirteen people were killed in the Barcelona attack and dozens injured

Spain’s interior minister Juan Ignacio Zoido confirmed increased security for events that draw large crowds as well as at popular tourist sites. Spanish media also said that security at the border with France was being strengthened, while French police carried out extra border checks on people arriving from Spain. There will be extra security at Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium today, with nearly 100,000 people expected for the team’s first game of the season against Real Betis. The game will include a minute of silence for the victims and Barcelona’s football team will wear black armbands and special shirts, bearing the Catalan words for “We are all Barcelona”.

:: Imam’s home raided as police hunt terror mastermind1 Catalan regional police are mounting road blocks in the northeast of Spain as officers search for at least one man suspected to have been involved in the Barcelona attack, who is still on the run.

Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, is a Moroccan national who was living in the Spanish town of Ripoll, where his flat is one of nine addresses raided by police on Saturday. He is not believed to be among those held or shot dead by police in the coastal resort of Cambrils, where the second attack took place. Earlier, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited the site of the attack at Las Ramblas, placing a wreath and two candles on the ground. They were accompanied by Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau.

:: The victims of Spain’s terrorist attacks2

Image: The royals visited victims of the Barcelona attack in hospital

Earlier, the royal couple visited a hospital where many victims from Thursday’s attack were being treated, also speaking with medical staff. Catalan emergency services have said that seven of the 14 victims have been identified from both attacks, including four Spaniards, two Portuguese and an Italian, while family members or government officials have said a US man, a second Italian and a woman from Belgium were also killed. Spanish authorities have also said that the terror cell behind deadly twin attacks has been “dismantled”3. In a news conference, interior minister Mr Zoido said the cell comprised 12 young men, many of them Moroccan, and some teenagers.

“The cell has been completely dismantled,” he told reporters.

References

  1. ^ Imam’s home raided as police hunt terror mastermind (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ The victims of Spain’s terrorist attacks (news.sky.com)
  3. ^ terror cell behind deadly twin attacks has been “dismantled” (news.sky.com)