UN human rights envoy deeply concerned by alleged harassment of Tunisian lawyer

26 November 2003

The United Nations envoy charged with protecting human rights defenders today expressed her dismay over allegations that a prominent Tunisian lawyer, who has gone on a hunger strike, has been harassed and physically assaulted by authorities.

Hina Jilani, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Human Rights Defenders, said she had also received reports that clients of Radhia Nasraoui were being coerced into changing their lawyer.

Ms. Nasraoui, a lawyer, prominent member of Tunisia's bar and the president of the Association de Lutte contre la Torture (ALCT), has been on a hunger strike since 15 October. She is now reported to be suffering "serious health consequences," said Ms. Jilani.

Ms. Jilani urged Tunisia to protect its human rights defenders, including Ms. Nasraoui, and to ensure that freedom of expression and association, and the right to offer legal counsel, are respected.