Amnesty denounces trial of Tunisian blogger for calling police 'bastards'
Amnesty International called Tuesday on ending bogus charges against Tunisian blogger Myriam Bribri, the latest activist to be prosecuted over anti-police online posts in the North African country.
"It is a travesty that the Tunisian authorities have spent the past two years dragging Myriam Bribri through the courts because she spoke out against police brutality, instead of taking steps to investigate that police violence," wrote Amna Guellali, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Myriam Bribri, a Tunisian blogger and activist, was sentenced on 20 December 2021 to four months in prison over a Facebook post criticising police abuse and is scheduled to face the court of appeal today Wednesday, 28 September 2022.
In October 2020, Myriam Bribri posted a video on her Facebook profile showing police beating a man, along with the comment, "cursed be the best of you bastards."
A few days later, police ordered her detention and formally charged her with "wilfully or knowingly harm[ing] others or disturb[ing] others via public telecommunications networks" under Article 86 of the Telecommunications Code.
On 20 December 2021, the Sfax First Instance Court sentenced Bribri to a four-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 500 Tunisian dinars (around $US 160).
Myriam Bribri's lawyer appealed the verdict on 23 December 2021.
"[Bribri's] case is a reminder that Tunisia has a whole set of archaic repressive provisions that criminalise speech, which could be used to stifle dissent and create a climate of fear among those who dare to voice criticism," added Guellali in Amnesty's report.
The UK-based rights group has also said that Bribri's conviction must be immediately quashed.
Myriam Bribri was a key figure in the anti-impunity movement "Manich Msamah" ("I will not forgive") that opposed the passing of a national reconciliation law in 2017 to grant general amnesty to state employees guilty of corruption under former president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisian authorities have increasingly targeted people involved in the movement, according to the right group.
Since President Kais Saied's power grab last year, courts in Tunisia have investigated or prosecuted at least 29 people, including former political leaders and journalists, for voicing criticism of Saied's state.
Rights groups say Tunisia's new "flawed" constitution, which grants Saied unchecked powers, will most likely embolden Saied's state to dismantle key institutional safeguards for human rights that Tunisian people scored during the Arab spring.