Urgent Action Network Graphic

Tunisia: Unjust Detention of Opposition Leader Abir Moussi

Authorities have wrongfully detained Abir Moussi, a leader who opposes the government, for her outspoken criticism and for organizing peaceful protests. Abir Moussi has been vocal about the flaws in the election process, leading to four legal complaints against her by the election oversight body. She is facing investigations due to harsh internet laws, simply for expressing her views. Additionally, her efforts to mobilize two rallies with her party, the Free Destourian Party, are under scrutiny. Since October 3, 2023, she has been in custody for attempting to contest presidential directives ahead of local elections. It’s imperative that Tunisian officials release Abir Moussi and drop these baseless accusations, which are an attack on her fundamental rights to free speech and assembly.

Here’s what you can do:

Write to the President of the Republic of Tunisia urging him to:

  • Immediately release Abir Moussi and drop all charges against her that stem from her peaceful political activism.
  • Pending her release, ensure that she is granted regular access to her family, lawyers and adequate medical care, and held in conditions that comply with international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

Write to:

President of the Republic Kais Saied

Email: contact@carthage.tn

X (Formerly Twitter): @TnPresidency

Salutation: Your Excellency:

And copy:

His Excellency Lassaad BOUTARA


Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia

515 O’Connor Street

Ottawa, ON K1S 3P8

Tel: (613) 237-0330, -0332 Fax: (613) 237-7939

Email: at.ottawa@diplomatie.gov.tn


Abir Moussi, 48, is not only a respected lawyer but also leads the Free Destourian Party (PDL) as its president. She stands as a prominent critic of President Kais Saied and actively participated in the political landscape as a member of Parliament from 2019 to 2021.

Health Concerns and Detention

Recent updates from her social media reveal that Abir Moussi’s health is worsening in detention, with complaints of pain in various parts of her body. To protest her unjust detention, she initiated a 16-day hunger strike on November 28 and a two-day strike without food or water from January 26 to 28, 2024.

Her arrest on October 3, 2023, came shortly after she announced her intention to run in the upcoming presidential elections. She was taken into custody in a highly public manner outside a government building in Carthage, after attempting and being denied the chance to submit a legal appeal against presidential decrees.

Despite her peaceful protest and live broadcast of the event, she was forcibly detained and taken to an undisclosed location, only to be found by her lawyers two hours later at a police station in La Goulette, Tunis. Reports from her legal team and Amnesty International indicate that she suffered physical harm during her arrest due to excessive police force and was denied her legal rights during interrogation.

On October 5, Abir Moussi faced interrogation and was charged with several serious offences, including attempts to alter the government structure and inciting violence, under Tunisia’s Penal Code and Data Protection Law. However, by January 30, some charges were dismissed by an investigative judge.

This case raises significant concerns regarding the freedom of expression, a right protected and emphasized by the UN Human Rights Committee. The Committee insists that public figures must be open to scrutiny and criticism without the threat of penal action, highlighting the importance of safeguarding the freedom of expression and the right to critique governmental actions.

This stance is crucial in light of the restrictive measures imposed by President Saied since July 2021, under the guise of emergency powers, which have led to a concerning decline in human rights conditions in Tunisia and targeted actions against opposition figures.

Please take action as soon as possible until April 18, 2024! The UA will be duly updated should there be the need for further action.