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Najet Laabidi


Testimony by Najet Laabidi at the 2013 Dublin Platform

The first days in the charity were risky. In addition to increasing surveillance, the political police tried to prevent me from leaving the organisation and also tried to hurt my face with a sharp knife. The attack came as a result of the human rights campaign activities I was doing.

Najet Laabidi is a human rights lawyer and former member of the executive bureau of Tunisian human rights group, Liberté Equité. She is the legal representative of victims of reported torture in what is known as the “Barraket Essahel” case. The Barraket Essahel case goes back to 1991, when authorities said they had uncovered a plan orchestrated by officers to topple President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and establish an Islamist regime. Between May and July 1991, 244 army officers were arrested, many of whom were reportedly tortured by state security agents in the Tunis headquarters of the Interior Ministry.


Following the ousting of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as a result of the historic protests in 2011, the situation for human rights defenders (HRDs) in Tunisia began to improve substantially. In particular the lifting of legal impediments to the work of human rights defenders and progress in the adoption of human rights legislation have been significant. Numerous HRDs who had been persecuted by the Ben Ali's regime found opportunities for viable political participation including, notably, Moncef Marzouki who was elected interim President.