Tunisia emergency measures threaten rights: activists
Civil society groups in Tunisia warned on Thursday that freedoms were being rolled back after President Kais Saied imposed a string of emergency measures.
Saied on July 25 sacked the government, suspended parliament and put himself in charge of the prosecution.
He also lifted parliamentarians' immunity, and several now face trial on corruption, fraud and similar charges.
Saied has renewed the measures for a second 30-day period, and has yet to respond to calls for a roadmap.
The Tunisian Association for the Defence of Individual Liberties (ADLI) warned of "many dangers threatening democracy and the rule of law" under Saied's "state of exception".
Arguing that parliament is "a democratic space, despite its faults and weaknesses", the rights group warned that several of Saied's measures were "contrary to the rules of democracy".
It pointed to the sacking of prime minister Hichem Mechichi and warned against "the concentration of executive power in the hands of the president".
On Saturday Saied mooted the possibility of amending the country's 2014 constitution, which had put in place a mixed presidential and parliamentary system that has seen years of political crises.
The country is facing a grinding economic downturn and has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, further battering its economy.
Saied based his moves on Article 80 of the constitution, which empowers the president to take exceptional measures in the case of "imminent threat" to national security and the functioning of the state.
But ADLI, which on Thursday released a detailed report on the rights situation in Tunisia since July 25, said the constitution was being applied "according to the interests of the president".
"It is one of the most dangerous situations ever to face the Tunisian state," the report read.
ADLI's honorary president Wahid Ferchichi said that "almost every freedom enshrined in the constitution has been infringed or violated" since July 25, including freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial and freedom of movement.
A string of public figures have been arrested, faced travel bans or been placed under house arrest, with many accused of corruption.
"We are in a period of trouble and ambiguity which cannot give anyone hope that there will be an improvement in rights or liberties," Ferchichi said.
"There has been a clear and blatant rollback of freedoms," said former MP Bochra Ben Haj Hmida.
"There have been violations we haven't seen since January 14, 2011," she said, referring to the day dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country weeks into a popular revolt, launching Tunisia on the path of democracy.