TUNIS, 5 February 2021 – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused police in Tunisia of using violent tactics to quash protests, a statement issued Friday by the New York-based group said.

In several governorates of the country, police responded to recent social protests “with excessive force at times, leaving one man dead and arresting hundreds, including many minors”, the rights group said in the statement.

HRW Rein in the Police - Photo Project on Middle East Democracy

HRW Urges Tunisia to Rein in the Police – Photo Project on Middle East Democracy

HRW called on the Tunisian government to conduct “an urgent and transparent investigation into the death of Haykel Rachdi.

The protester died from a serious head injury which he suffered after police intervene during a demonstration last January 18.

The rights group also called for investigation into the alleged beating of protesters and for the “release those held solely for peaceful assembly or expression”.

All detainees should be given “access to lawyers” and be held in “humane detention conditions,” the rights group recommended.

It called on the Tunisian government to “rein in police”, especially those “who have acted unlawfully”.

Protests erupted last January 15 all across Tunisia after a video posted on social media showed a police officer humiliating a shepherd in the northwestern governorate of Siliana.

Tunisia’s Prime Minister Hichem Mechi on January 19 acknowledged that the protests were justified by economic and social hardships, but insisted that Tunisian security forces acted “professionally”.

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