Tunisia rights activist walks free after appeal

Tunisia rights activist walks free after appeal
2 min read
Tunisian activist Rania Amdouni was released after having been sentenced to six months in jail for insulting police officers.
Tunisian activist Rania Amdouni (R) takes part in an anti-government demonstration in Tunis [AFP]

A Tunisian court on Wednesday released a rights and democracy activist who had been sentenced to six months in jail for insulting police officers, her lawyer said.

Rania Amdouni was convicted on appeal but the judge reduced her sentence and ordered her to pay a fine of 200 dinars (about $73), Hammadi Henchiri told AFP.

At the hearing, the defence had called for the release of the 26-year-old LGBTQI rights campaigner, who was arrested on February 27.

Amdouni, a film student, was detained when she went to a police station to complain about alleged harassment by plainclothes officers.

She has been the target of a smear campaign by police unions after lodging a complaint against police abuse last summer, and taking part in protests against police repression in January.

Dozens of human rights organisations in Tunisia and abroad had called for Amdouni's release, in a joint statement issued on Tuesday.

They said she was "the target of a police and judicial downward slide that the Tunisian authorities have chosen to favour in response to the economic, social and political crisis suffocating the country."

Like many other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex activists, Amdouni was "threatened daily on the street and in public places by security forces as well as anonymous citizens," they said.

Amnesty International deplored the prosecution of Amdouni, saying it "sends a chilling message to activists who face harassment".

Tunisia's 2011 revolution sparked major advances in terms of freedom of expression and political freedoms, but the police and justice systems have seen few reforms.

Consensual same-sex conduct is punishable by imprisonment.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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