Around 800 people have been arrested since Monday during protests in Tunisia, raising concerns from human rights groups.
Most of those arrested were released, but the number of cases led to words of concern from the UN.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said, “We’re concerned about the high number of arrests, some 778 people we understand have now been arrested since Monday, and around a third of those arrested were between the ages of 15 and 20.”
He added, “We call on the authorities to ensure that people are not arrested in an arbitrary manner and that all those detained are treated with full respect for their due process rights and are either charged or promptly released.”
Detainees included political of opposition groups, including three leaders of the Popular Front, the main leftist opposition party, who were detained in Gafsa on suspicion of vandalism.
Popular Front accused political authorities of reproducing the tactics of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali regime, who was dictator until his overthrow in 2011 – the first Arab leader to be toppled.
The protests are largely against austerity, and increasing rates of inflation and unemployment.
The demonstrations took place on the seventh anniversary of the revolution.
Reporters and journalists have complained about intimidation during the protests, with one French reporter being arrested and then released after he was ordered to reveal the identities of journalists in Tebourba.
The International Crisis Group, an organisation committed to preventing conflicts, warned that unrest in Tunisia is risking the outcomes of the revolution.
Unlike many countries that witnessed the Arab Spring, Tunisia emerged from the period of upheaval with a semblance of a stable democracy.
Photo credit: OHCHR, via Twitter.