Right to civil liberties
On 31 January 2023, the general secretary of the employees’ union of the Tunisian highway company Tunisie Autoroutes, Anis Kaabi, was arrested in the context of a strike planned by the union on 30 and 31 January. Workers were demanding the renewal of the operating contract for the Tunis-Msaken highway, due to end in 2025, as well as salary increases that had been decided under an agreement concluded between the UGTT and the government in September 2022, and the delivery of uniforms that had been promised five years earlier.
Kaabi’s home was searched by security forces and his family was not initially informed of his whereabouts. He was finally granted a telephone call around 11pm and was then able to contact his family and ask them to send a lawyer to the police district of El Gorjani.
This arrest was a direct consequence of a complaint filed by Tunisie Autoroutes against Kaabi for “financial losses caused by the strike”. The losses related of the opening of free lanes during the strike period. However, it appears that it was a management decision to open the corridors. Kaabi’s arrest followed menacing statements by the President of the Republic, who declared that trade unionists who threaten to close the highways “must be held to account”.