Geneva, Feb 24 (DPA) The systematic and brutal suppression of Tunisians by ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his family and entourage “lay at the heart” of the recent uprising, the UN human rights agency said in a report released Thursday.
“To maintain a monopoly on political and economic life, the authorities systematically denied Tunisians their economic and social rights as well as their civil and political rights,” said the Office the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The 18-page report is based on the findings of an assessment mission carried out in Tunisia by the OHCHR late last month, shortly after a popular uprising forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia.
According to the report said Ben Ali had ignored calls for reform and used force, including torture, to repress the opposition.
“What has been referred to as the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ has already brought with it new and sudden openings for free expression and association,” the report said.
The OHCHR warned of new responsibilities and a “risk that people will resort to the court of public opinion instead of due process”.
At the same time, the revolution, sparked by a desire to end an unrepresentative regime, has led to greater demands that politicians respect the will of the people. Making the state accountable to the population was Tunisia’s “greatest challenge”, the report found.
The constitution would require changes, including upgrades to make it compatible with international human rights obligations, and the former ruling part of Ben Ali, the RCD, must be de-linked from the state.
Other specific recommendations by the UN team to the interim government in Tunis included cleaning up a messy prisons system, with jails “overflowing due to its harsh and politicized penal justice system” under the former regime.
Moreover, the OHCHR strongly urged justice for victims of Ben Ali’s brutal system of governing.
The new leaders must “ensure accountability for all human rights violations by immediately opening judicial investigations into all credible allegations of violations”.