By Amnesty International
Today’s decision by a Tunisian court to dismiss a defamation case against the 18-year-old FEMEN activist Amina Sboui is only a partial victory, Amnesty International said as it called for her release.
Amina was arrested on 19 May after writing the word ‘Femen’ – the name of an international network of feminist activists famous for staging topless protests – on a cemetery wall in Kairouan in central Tunisia. Held since then, she has faced an array of charges including defamation, insulting a civil servant and desecrating a cemetery.
‘Imprisoning anyone for expressing themselves is inherently disproportionate. The fact that Amina has already spent two months in prison is an indictment of the state of free expression in Tunisia,’ said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
‘We believe the case against her constitutes a politically motivated attack on her right to freedom of expression and that she should be released.’
Two weeks after her arrest, on 30 May, Amina was fined after being convicted of possessing a can of pepper spray. But she remained in custody on additional charges including ‘desecrating a cemetery’, ‘belonging to a criminal organization’ and ‘undermining public morals’.
Two of these charges were dropped earlier this month, but Amina still faces a prison sentence of up to two years if she is convicted on the remaining charge of ‘desecrating a cemetery’. The prosecution has also sought to reinstate the dropped charges, with an appeals court due to decide on the matter on 1 August.
‘The Tunisian authorities have resorted to blatant intimidation tactics against Amina. By keeping her in custody, they are seeking to make an example of her case to deter others from speaking out or criticizing the authorities,’ Philip Luther said.
On 10 July, Amina’s lawyers learnt that new charges were brought against her – including defamation and ‘insulting a civil servant exercising his duties’, which was also dropped today. The prosecution may appeal the decision.
The fresh charges arose after four prison guards claimed Amina insulted them when she intervened on behalf of another detainee.
‘No one should be detained for criticizing public officials or for expressing their views, even if others may find them offensive, ‘indecent’ or ‘harmful to public morals’,’ said Philip Luther.
Amina Sboui, who is also known as Amina Tyler, shot to fame in March 2013 after she posted a topless photograph of herself on her Facebook page.
Courtesy of Modern Ghana Editor’s Note:
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Published Monday, July 29, 2013
A court on Monday dismissed one case against Tunisian Femen activist Amina Sboui in which she was tried for contempt and defamation, her lawyer said, calling the verdict “a victory.”
But Ghazi Mrabet said Sboui still faces a pepper spray charge which carries a prison sentence of between six months and five years.
She could also be charged with desecrating a cemetery for which she could be jailed for up to two years if found guilty.
“The court decided to dismiss the case against Amina. It is a victory, the judiciary has begun to understand that she has been unfairly prosecuted,” the defense lawyer said of the contempt and defamation charge.
She was on trial on those two counts after she charged that detainees were tortured in the prison where she has been held since May after daubing the word “Femen” on a wall near a cemetery in the city of Kairouan.
She was protesting against an annual congress that hardline Salafists had planned to hold in the historic Islamic center of learning before the government banned it.
Amina’s mother said the verdict was “reassuring.”
“I am happy with this decision, it is reassuring for what comes next.I have faith against in the judicial system,” she told AFP.
Amina had sparked both scandal and a wave of online support after she was threatened by Tunisia’s increasingly active hardline Islamists for posting topless pictures of herself on Facebook earlier this year.
Her family said that she suffered from chronic depression and had suicidal tendencies, and they prevented her from going out, claiming her safety was at risk.
But the young woman, who accused her relatives of holding her in captivity and beating her, ran away from home in April and had regularly appeared in public before her detention in May.
The Femen movement, founded in Ukraine and now based in Paris, has flourished since 2010, with feminists around the world stripping off in protest at a wide range of issues linked to the mistreatment of women, but also against dictatorship.
At the end of May three Femen activist, two French and a German, were arrested after bearing their breasts outside the main Tunis courthouse, in a demonstration of support for Amina.
The arrest of the three women triggered international condemnation and they were later released.
Publié par Mhamed Ben Sassi le 29 juillet 2013 à 19:31
Une patrouille militaire a été attaquée, cet après-midi, par des tirs de feu à Jebel Châambi. Selon Mosaïque FM qui a rapporté l’information, cette attaque aurait fait des victimes. Un hélicoptère est en train de survoler la zone. La situation est encore confuse. Selon un premier bilan, 9 mort et 3 blessés, dont trois ont été égorgés, précise la même source.