Tunisia: LGBT activist’s assault by police seen as a pattern

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12/09/2021

TUNIS, Tunisia — A prominent LGBTQ activist in Tunisia has reported that two men, one dressed in police uniform, threw him to the ground, beat and kicked him during an assault they said was punishment for his “insulting” attempts to file complaints against officers for previous mistreatment. “This was not the first time that I had been attacked by a policeman, but I was really surprised. The attack was horrifying,” Badr Baabou, president of the Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality, or Damj, said. “They aimed for my head… at a moment they stood on my neck. This was very symbolic for me, as if they wanted to reduce me to silence.” The Oct. 21 attack in Tunisia’s capital left Baabou with welts and bruises on his face and body. He said that neck trauma caused difficulty breathing, and that his assailants took his laptop, phone and wallet. Police have not publicly commented on Baabou’s account, although his lawyer says an internal police investigation is underway. Police violence is among the myriad challenges that LGBTQ people experience in Tunisia. Observers say officers who can dispense beatings with impunity are becoming increasingly brazen. Homosexual activity in the North African country remains a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison.

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