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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 155 E/27

(2003/C 155 E/028) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2597/02

by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Prison conditions experienced by Mr Zouhair Yahyaoui

In June 2002, Mr Zouhair Yahyaoui, alias Ettounsi, editor of the Tunézine website, was sentenced to three
years’ imprisonment, following a trial that was a farce (none of his lawyers was able to speak on his behalf
either during the initial proceedings or at the court of appeal). He is currently being held at the Borj el
Amri prison, where he was recently visited by his family. Although his physical and mental health are
excellent, this is in spite of the inhuman conditions in which he is being detained. Prisoners have access to
water  at very low pressure  for less than an hour at night. Most prisoners are suffering from
contagious skin diseases which cannot be treated without a proper water supply. Waste and garbage are
not collected for days at a time and prisoners are forced to collect them in blankets. The toilets cannot be
flushed, while more than 80 prisoners share the same cell, ‘sleeping’ in pairs on bunks no wider than
75 centimetres. These conditions lead to the spread of odours, cockroaches, fleas, mosquitoes and other
insects in unimaginable numbers, preventing prisoners from sleeping by night or day. The food is unfit for
human consumption and is served on dishes which are never washed. Only a small part of the food
brought by families is given to prisoners at the end of the day, by which time it is no longer edible. The
rest  in other words almost all of it  simply vanishes. This squalor is not the result of negligence or
simple lack of upkeep, but is knowingly and deliberately created in order to humiliate prisoners.

Is the Commission aware of the conditions at Borj el Amri prison, where Mr Zouhair Yahyaoui is being
held? More generally, is the Commission aware of the conditions prevalent in Tunisian prisons? What has
the Commission done, or will it do, to ensure that the Tunisian authorities take all necessary measures as a
matter of urgency to provide prison conditions which respect human dignity?

(2003/C 155 E/029) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2629/02

by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Arrest of the journalist Abdallah Zouari two months after his release from jail

According to the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia (CNLT), the Tunisian journalist Abdallah Zouari
has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment by the district court of Zarzis (southern Tunisia), two
months after his release from jail, because he failed to comply with the ‘administrative order’ imposed on
him after his release. Mr Zouari, who is 46 and writes for the newspaper El Fajr (‘the Dawn’), the
mouthpiece of the banned Tunisian Islamic movement Ennahdha, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprison-
ment in April 1991 for ‘belonging to an illegal organisation’, but was released from jail on 6 June 2002
after having served his sentence. He was nevertheless subject to an administrative order for a period of five
years, issued by the Minister of Justice on 15 July and requiring him to live at Khariba-Hassi Jerbi in the
Zarzis region. The CNLT has described this order as unlawful since Mr Zouari’s family live in Tunis, and
Mr Zouari himself filed an appeal against it. Before the administrative court take any decision, Mr Zouari
was arrested on 19 August and brought before the district court of Zarzis. During the hearing, the
presiding judge, Mr Abdallah Abassi, rejected a request from the Mr Zouari’s lawyers for the trial to be
postponed so that they could research the case and prepare his defence.

Is the Commission aware of Abdallah Zouari’s rearrest and the circumstances in which this took place? In
more general terms, how does the Commission view this umpteenth example of a Tunisian citizen being
denied his rights? What justification does the Commission have for not taking action to suspend the EU-
Tunisia Association Agreement?