Tunisia policemen protest demanding ‘protection’

Hundreds of Tunisian policemen demonstrated on Friday in the central city of Sfax, demanding that parliament adopt a law on “protecting” them which civil groups have called “dangerous” for democracy.

The demonstrations come two days after an Islamist extremist stabbed two policemen outside parliament. One died on Thursday of his wounds.

The protesters, some in their police uniforms, marched in the city before rallying outside the prefecture, holding up signs that read: “We demand a law that bans attacks against policemen.”

Another sign said: “Such a law is a right, not a favour.”

Similar demonstrations were held in other cities including Gabes in the south and Bizerte and Siliana in the north, media reported.

Wednesday’s attack in front of parliament came as Tunisia debates the contentious proposed law.

The bill calls for “the protection of agents of the armed forces (police, soldiers, customs guards)” against “attacks threatening their security and their lives, in order to guarantee the stability” of the country.

But several civil society groups have said the bill “threatens freedom of expression and of demonstration”, and would create a “special immunity” for police and the military.

NGOs say the law would be “dangerous” for democracy.

Unions representing the security forces have warned lawmakers of protests if they do not pass the bill.

In the wake of Wednesday’s stabbing, President Beji Caid Essebsi underscored the “necessity of giving absolute priority” to the legislation.

Thursday’s death of one of the policemen, Commander Riadh Barrouta who was knifed in the neck, rekindled the debate over the proposed law.


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