Tunisian judge releases union leader after one-day detention

Tunisian judge releases union leader after one-day detention

TUNIS (Reuters): A judge has released a top official in Tunisia’s biggest labor union, one day after he was detained, the union said.

The Tunisian General Labor Union denounced the detention of Tahar Mezzi, saying it was a politically motivated attempt to undermine union rights.

Mezzi is the deputy secretary-general and the union’s head of the private sector.

He was detained two days before a huge protest called by the UGTT against what it said was a “violation of union rights and the disruption of social dialogue.”

A judicial official said the judge also ordered a travel ban on Mezzi.

The UGTT did not say on what grounds Mezzi was detained.

Tunisian authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Since last year, police have arrested at least four senior union officials.

The UGTT, which has about 1 million members, has been a critical voice after the arrest of activists, businessmen, and journalists since President  Kais Saied took charge of most powers in 2021 when he closed parliament.

But the voice of the union, which was widely seen as the biggest force in the country, has been significantly diminished since last year after the arrest of some officials.

Some political parties and activists have accused UGTT of inaction, retreating from its role, and choosing silence instead of confronting Saied’s authoritarian approach.

Saturday’s protest will be the first in months.