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Tunisia: Chokri Belaid's killing must be fully investigated

‘The Tunisian authorities should be under no illusion that they can condemn the killing and move on’ - Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui

The killing of Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid, outside his home yesterday must prompt a thorough, independent and impartial investigation by the Tunisian authorities, Amnesty International has said.

Chokri Belaid, a leading figure of the leftist opposition in Tunisia, was shot in the neck and head as he was leaving his home in Tunis yesterday morning. He was the Secretary General of the Democratic Patriots party, and a vocal critic of the government. He denounced political violence and called for democratic values to be upheld in Tunisia.

It is the first time that such a killing has taken place in Tunisia. So far, no one has claimed responsibility.

Belaid’s death has occurred at a time of increasing polarisation between political parties in Tunisia. In recent months, there have been a number of incidents of violence against political activists, premises of political parties and gatherings, including at a meeting which Chokri Belaid attended as recently as last Saturday. He had reportedly been receiving threats.  

Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said:

“The Tunisian authorities should be under no illusion that they can condemn the killing and move on.

“Only a fully independent and transparent investigation can help shed light on the circumstances of the killing of Chokri Belaid. There is a need, today more than ever, for justice to be done and to be seen to be done.

“Two years after the ousting of former President Ben Ali, there is an increasing mistrust in the institutions that are supposed to protect human rights and Tunisians will not be satisfied with a sham investigation.

“Yesterday’s shocking killing must serve as a wake-up call to the authorities. It is their duty to protect all individuals, including those who criticise the government or Tunisia’s leading Ennahda party, from violence. No group, regardless of its affiliation, can be above the law.”

Amnesty has also called on the Tunisian security forces to refrain from unnecessary or excessive use of force in response to protests that have sprung up in several parts of Tunisia after Belaid’s killing. Four opposition parties have reportedly called for a general strike on Thursday and for a suspension of their participation in the National Constituent Assembly.

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