TUNIS, Oct 15, 2012 (AFP) -
TUNIS, Oct 15, 2012 (AFP) –
Human Rights Watch urged Tunisia on Monday to probe a wave of attacks by radical Islamists in recent months and hold those responsible to account, warning that failure to do so strengthens their impunity.
“Tunisian authorities should investigate a series of attacks by religious extremists over the past 10 months and bring those responsible to justice,” the New York-based rights group said in a statement.
“The failure of Tunisian authorities to investigate these attacks entrenches the religious extremists impunity and may embolden them to commit more violence,” said the group’s regional director Joe Stork.
HRW said it sent a letter to the ministers of justice and interior in July, asking if the authorities had taken any action over six incidents in which Islamists had assaulted people — mostly artists, intellectuals and political activists — because of their ideas or dress.
More recently, it mentioned reports of an incident in August, when a group of bearded men attacked the organisers of a festival in Bizerte, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Tunis, injuring at least three activists.
The group said it has received no response to the letter.
“The apparent lack of investigations — never mind prosecutions — can only increase the sense of vulnerability by those who earn the ire of these gangs,” Stork said.
Tunisia’s coalition government, led by the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, has been strongly criticised for failing to clamp down on religious extremists, also thought to have been behind an attack on the US embassy in Tunis last month.
Four people were killed and 49 injured in the violence, which began as a protest against a US-made film mocking Islam.