Tunisian authorities should release former Prime Minister and Vice-President of the opposition Ennahda party Ali Laarayedh from detention, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday. He has been held since December 19, 2022, without being taken before a judge, the same source added.
Based on his detention warrant, which Human Rights Watch has seen, Laarayedh is accused of failing to curb the spread of Salafism, a revivalist branch of Sunni Islam, and of the Islamist armed group Ansar al-Sharia during his time in office. He served as interior minister from December 2011 to February 2013 and prime minister from March 2013 to January 2014 in a coalition government comprised of Ennahdha and two leftwing parties (Ettakatol and Congress for the Republic). The warrant indicates he is being prosecuted for his decisions and policies in office and not for specific criminal acts.
“Based on the available information, Laarayedh’s prosecution seems like one more example of President Saied’s authorities trying to silence leaders of the Ennahda party and other opponents by tarring them as terrorists,” said Salsabil Chellali , Tunisia Director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately free Laarayedh and other political figures and critics they are holding in the absence of credible evidence of crimes.”