Abderrazak Kilani

Amnesty International (AI) has called on authorities in Tunisia to immediately release Abderrazak Kilani and drop the ‘baseless’ charges against him after the lawyer was jailed by a military court.

It is understood that Kilani’s prosecution stems from a verbal exchange between him and police officers as they barred him from entering a hospital to visit his detained client, the former Justice Minister, Noureddine Bhiri.

The former President of the Tunisian Bar Association is accused of disturbing the public order, insulting state officials, and obstructing the work of others. He faces up to seven years imprisonment if convicted.

In a letter addressed to the president of the Maghreb country, Kais Saied, the rights organisation urged Saied to stop prosecuting civilians before military courts.

‘Abderazzak Kilani’s prosecution by a military court violates Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Tunisia has ratified’, the letter read.

‘That article guarantees the right to “a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” His zealous prosecution also undermines his rights to freedom of expression and his right to exercise his profession as a lawyer seeking to have access to his client’.

Tunisian law grants military courts jurisdiction to prosecute civilians in some circumstances, including for offenses under the penal code that are committed in certain circumstances against security personnel.

AI had  accused Tunisian authorities of increasingly circumventing judicial procedures to impose arbitrary travel bans, house arrests and detentions on Tunisians in violation of the rights to liberty and freedom of movement.

Freedom House ranked Tunisia as ‘Partly Free’ in its 2022 Freedom in the World report on political rights and civil liberties, with the Maghreb country earning 64 points out of a possible 100.

Source: Amnesty International

Photo source: Abderrazak Kilani

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