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09/15/2021 Tunisia (International Christian Concern) –  Following international attention linking the arrest and repatriation of Algerian Slimane Bouhafs to the arrest and return of former Tunisian presidential candidate Nabil Karoui, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed said “the presidency intends to open an investigation into the circumstances of his departure from Tunisian territory.”

Bouhafs, a native Algerian Christian living in Tunisia with refugee status from the UNHCR, was kidnapped from his home by the secret police and forced to return to Algeria on August 29, where he faces prison for his political, and likely religious, beliefs. He currently is facing six charges, including article 87 which accuses him of a terrorist act aimed at the security of the state and its institutions.

Former presidential candidate Nabil Karoui had been detained for more than six months in Tunisia on charges of money laundering and tax evasion and was released on June 15. He reportedly then fled to Algeria, which now ordered his detention for illegally crossing the border. Tunisia has been in a period of turmoil after President Kaïs Saïed suspended the government at the end of July, dismissing the Prime Minister and freezing parliament.

The announcement from the Tunisian president came after a meeting with the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDDH), who was a signatory on a joint statement expressing their “indignation” at “the dangerous precedent created by the Tunisian state by handing over a refugee enjoying international protection to the authorities of his country who are prosecuting him for his political positions.” Amnesty International also appealed for the Tunisian government to investigate the circumstances surrounding Bouhafs kidnapping, disappearance and forced return to Algeria. The group commented, “under international human rights law, Tunisia is required to protect refugees and not to expel or return them to a country where they risk persecution.”

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