Suleiman Bouhafs case: Tunisia again violates its international obligations to protect refugees
The undersigned organisations have learned of the disappearance of Algerian political activist Suleiman Bouhafs (54) in Tunisia under mysterious circumstances. Eyewitnesses reported that cars with unknown license plates arrived on 25 August at the house where the Algerian activist lives and took him to an unknown destination. On Sunday, Algerian media sites announced that Suleiman Buhafs was handed over by the Tunisian authorities to their Algerian counterpart, where he will be submitted to Algerian justice.
Suleiman Buhafs arrived in Tunisia, where the UN High Commissioner for Refugees granted him refugee status in September 2020. The international protection accorded to Suleiman Buhafs requires the Tunisian authorities, signatories to the 1951 Geneva Convention and its 1967 Protocol and the 1984 Convention against Torture, not to refoul him.
The signatory organisations:
- Express their indignation at the dangerous precedent caused by the Tunisian State of handing over a refugee benefiting from international protection to the authorities of his country, who are pursuing him on the basis of his political positions and demand that they provide clarification to public opinion.
- Call on the Tunisian State to respect its international commitments in this delicate circumstance and to ensure the protection of human rights and the rights of refugees.
- Consider that the establishment of friendly relations with a friendly country should not be to the detriment of the respect of international obligations that protect refugees and asylum seekers and the respect of the principle of non-refoulment and non-extradition.
- Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights
- Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights
- National Union of Tunisian Journalists
- Tunisian Association for the Defence of Individual Freedoms
- Binaa Association for Media and Development
- Baity Association
- Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD)
- Association of Tunisian Women for Development Research (AFTURD)
- Association Adrar pour la Culture Amazihe at Douirat
- Organisation 10-23 for the Support of the Democratic Transition Process
- The Association of Citizenship, Development, Cultures and Migrations
- Association of Arts and Cultures of the Two Rives
- Association of Civil Solidarity
- Forum for Youth Empowerment in Tunisia
- Support Centre for Democratic Transition and Human Rights
- The Committee for the respect of freedoms and human rights in Tunisia
- Wachm Association
- Alkarama Association (Voice of the Victims)
- Tunisian Network for Transitional Justice
- Tkalim Association for Freedom of Expression
- Tunisian Association for Positive Prevention
- Association Vigilance pour la démocratie et l’État civil
- Al Bawsala Association
- Tunisian Federation for Citizenship between the two shores
- Tunisian Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
- Tunisian Organisation Against Torture
- Union of unemployed graduates
- Association for the promotion of the right to be different
- Article 19
- Tunis Centre for Press Freedom
- Tunisian Association for Cultural Movement
- Tamakit Association for Amazigh rights, freedoms and culture
- Tunisian Association for the Defence of University Values
- Intersection for Rights and Freedoms
- Vigilance Committee for Democracy in Tunisia, Belgium
- Union of Tunisians for Citizenship
- Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities
- Avocats Sans Frontières
- Aswat Nisaa
- Minority Rights Group International
- Association Volontaires
- Damj the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality
- Association of Tunisians in France
Suleiman Bouhafs is an Algerian political refugee who belongs to the indigenous Amazigh population (Kabyles). He is also Christian, a religious minority in the country.
Mr Bouhafs has been living in Tunisia since August 2018, where he has been granted political refuge by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Tunisia. In Algeria, he was arrested on 31 July 2016 and charged for expressing his Christian beliefs and accused of ‘offending Islam’ and ‘harming the image of the Prophet’. Suleiman Buhafs was sentenced to three years in prison. He left the Algerian prison in April 2018.
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Photo: A photo of Slimane Bouhafs. Courtesy of Meziane Abaye.