Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has called for new democratic rights to be upheld amidst fears that the security agenda could undermine freedoms in Tunisia.
Four years after the collapse of the authoritarian regime in Tunisia, the country remains as the only state undergoing a genuine democratic transition from the 2011 Arab Spring. The progress in the country was highlighted by Habib Essid, the Tunisian Prime Minister, during his first visit to the European Parliament since becoming Prime Minister in February.
Alyn, who visited Tunisia in November last year, acknowledged the positive developments in the country but also expressed his concern regarding the protection of human rights in relation to the country's present security agenda. Earlier this month the Tunisian Council of Ministers proposed a new draft security law and new counter-terrorism measures that question the guarantee of human rights in Tunisia.
"There is much to be praised in your country and I was struck by the vibrancy of your civil society, which has sprung into existence fairly recently - Tunis is becoming an internationally significant centre of the NGO community for the whole of the Arab world.
“This is a huge endorsement of the new political stability that your country has been able to engender, but there is concern that the security agenda - which is of course deeply serious - could undermine the Tunisian people's newly acquired rights and freedoms. My appeal to you would be to emphasise their importance and ask for your assurance that you recognise their importance within Tunisian society but also for the wider Arab world. What can we do to support their expression and role both within your community and the wider Arab world?"
For more information:
Video of the Foreign Affairs meeting with Tunisia's Prime Minister
Video snapshot of the Prime Minister's speech.
Alyn's parliamentary question on "Tunisia-EU counter-terrorism cooperation and human rights."
Alyn's speech on EU-Arab League Counter Terrorism cooperation.