TUNISIA: HUNGER STRIKE BY HAMADI JEBALI REACHES 36TH DAY. IS THE COMMISSION AWARE OF THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION ?


Brussels, 18 February 2003. Mr Hamadi Jebali, former editor of the weekly newspaper Al Fajr, has been on hunger strike since 13 January, that is for 36 days. According to the International Association for Support for Political Prisoners, he was moved on 12 February to the emergency ward in a hospital in Bizerte. Despite many appeals for his release, both in Tunisia and around the world, the Tunisian authorities continue not to react. A member of Reporters Sans Frontières who asked to visit him in Nador Prison in Bizerte (in the north of the country) was refused permission on 6 February by the Prison Directorate. Mr Jebali’s wife and his defence lawyer Mohamed Nouri have also declared that M. Jebali has been put under severe pressure from police officers to end his hunger strike. The wife and daughters of the journalist - whose home is under surveillance - have had their passports confiscated. Mr Jebali was sentenced in 1992 by the military court of Tunis to 16 years in prison for "membership of an illegal organisation". At the time he had just completed a one-year sentence for having published an article criticising the system of military tribunals.

Question from Olivier Dupuis, Secretary of the Transnational Radical Party and Member of the European Parliament, to the European Commission

“What action has the Commission taken in support of Mr Jebali? Has the Commission been able, through its delegation in Tunis, to make direct inquiries about M. Jebali’s state of health after over a month of hunger strike? Has the Commission raised the question of the general amnesty for crimes of opinion in the 1980s and 1990s, and if so, what was the reaction of the Tunisian authorities?

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