Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Tunisia: the case of Zakaria Bouguira

Delivered in Plenary - 15th December 2011

Mr President

My Group, the ECR, welcomes the commitments that have been made by the new Tunisian Government following the end of the Ben Ali dictatorship – a deeply corrupt regime – and particularly its cooperation with the UN in putting procedures in place to respect Tunisia’s international legal obligations and to prevent torture and in particular inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.

In the light of this recent commitment we must urge the Tunisian Government to do all it can to make sure that the authorities deal properly with the case brought forward by Zakaria Bouguira in a transparent manner and in line with the law. The same manner must also be used when it investigates the alleged use of torture against the Moroccan nationals implicated in the case, and we must push in this House for there to be an independent criminal inquiry into the matter.

We are aware of the challenges that Tunisia faces after holding its first free and democratic elections in this period of transition, and for this reason we believe that a reform process must be fully implemented in order to establish a stronger and lasting multi-party pluralist democracy in the long term in Tunisia, and one that is based on human rights and the rule of law, with an independent judiciary and an accountable police force and, most importantly, a free media.

We again congratulate the Tunisian people on holding the first democratic election to come forth from the Arab Spring, on 23 October. There was an EP mission observing that election, and the European Union must continue to support the Tunisian people in their clear democratic aspirations. As such, we call on the Tunisian authorities to carry on reforming the security forces and ending any climate of impunity. Tunisia has traditionally prided itself on sharing EU common values in building a modern secular society. We hope that this process will continue into the future.