The request follows the April 17 arrest of opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi.
Relatives of political prisoners in Tunisia have petitioned the European Union to impose sanctions on President Kais Saied and other top Tunisian officials.
The request, filed by British lawyer Rodney Dixon on behalf of the families, accuses Tunisian officials of “gross and persistent human rights violations,” according to a press release issued by Dixon on Wednesday.
The other senior officials seeking to sanction the families are Ridha Gharsallaoui, former acting interior minister; Taofik Charfeddine, the recently resigned Home Secretary; Kamal Feki, the current Interior Minister; Leïla Jaffel, the Minister of Justice; and Imed Memmich, Secretary of Defense.
“What has been happening in Tunisia since July 2021 is a downward spiral towards increasingly serious violations of fundamental freedoms and rights,” the lawyer said.
“On behalf of our clients, we urge the EU to act swiftly and decisively in imposing sanctions on the Tunisian authorities who bear the greatest responsibility,” said Dixon.
The request follows the April 17 arrest of Rached Ghannouchi, a leading opposition leader and leader of the Ennahdha party.
It was part of an ongoing crackdown on the Tunisian opposition. In July 2021, Saied dissolved the democratically elected parliament, in which Ennahda was the largest party, and then moved to amend the constitution, centralizing power in his hands.
The families stated that since Saeid’s authoritarian shift in 2021, his government has committed “massive human rights violations in Tunisia, including the continued arrest, torture and in some cases murder of anyone deemed to be against them.”
The sanctions requested by the families included banning the officials from traveling to the EU, having their EU-based assets frozen, and banning them from doing business and holding accounts in the EU.
“Saied and his accomplices must be held accountable by imposing sanctions on them,” said Yusra Ghannouchi, Rached Ghannouchi’s daughter, according to the release.
“The EU must move beyond timid expressions of concern as they have clearly failed to persuade Saied to stop or slow down his reckless destruction of Tunisian democracy,” she added.
Several world powers have condemned the arrests of political opponents in Tunisia, including Ghannouchi, and warned of the escalating crackdown.