Update #1 to RAN 21/13 22 November 2013
PEN International continues to call for the immediate and unconditional release of blogger Jabeur Mejri, whose seven-and-a-half year sentence for expressing allegedly blasphemous views online was confirmed by the Court of Cassation on 25 April 2013. Mejri has been in prison since his arrest on 5 March 2012 and his request for a presidential pardon was recently denied. PEN International considers Jabeur Mejri to be imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a state party.
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Please send appeals immediately.
• Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Jabeur Mejri in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a state party;
• Urging the Tunisian authorities to review legislation to ensure that no one is imprisoned for the peaceful expression of his or her right to freedom of expression.
President Moncef Marzouki
Minister of Justice
Nadhir Ben Ammou
Ministry of Justice
31, Boulevard Bab Benat
Tunia 1006, Tunisia
Fax: +216 71 568 106
Minister of Human Rights and Transitional Justice
2 rue d’Alger
Fax +216 71 349 900
Please send copies to diplomatic representatives of Tunisia in your country and to your country’s representatives in Tunisa. Details may be found here.
Jabeur Mejri has been in prison since his arrest on 5 March 2012 for using social networks to publicise a satirical book entitled The Illusion of Islam. On 9 March 2012, a primary court in Mahdia charged Mejri with “disturbing public order and violating social morals” under Articles 121 (3) and 226 of Penal Code, and with “publishing articles which violate good morals” under Article 86 of Communication Law. On 15 March 2012, a primary court in Mahdia (eastern Tunisia) sentenced him to seven-and-a-half years in prison. Mejri was also fined 1200 Tunisian Dinars (equivalent to US$23). The author of the book, writer Ghazi Beji, was also charged in the case but fled Tunisia and was sentenced to seven-and–a-half years in prison in absentia. On 25 April 2013, the Court of Cassation upheld his sentence.
According to Mejri’s lawyer, he was tortured during his interrogation and was also attacked on several occasions inside the prison by other prisoners after news spread that he had “insulted Islam”. Mejri suffers from behavioural problems, and requests by his defence team for an examination of his mental state were refused by the court.
On 23 April 2013, a committee supporting Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji published a letter from Mejri, written in his prison cell in Mahdia, in which he claims he has been subject to torture. Mejri wrote:
“There’s no freedom of expression here in Tunisia, it is dead…I am denied medicine to cure my illness and other rights. Seven years and six months is a long period to spend in a small, dark and gloomy place. Officers take pleasure in torturing me.”
Letters of solidarity may be sent to Jabeur Mejri at
Prison civile de Mahdia
Route de Chiba
For further information contact Cathy McCann at the Writers in Prison Committee London Office: PEN International, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER UK Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail: Cathy.McCann@pen-international.org.