The Ministry of the Interior announced that curfew in effect throughout Tunisia would be pushed back by two hours. The nationwide curfew will now be in effect from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., according to the statement, effective immediately. The curfew has been in effect since Friday, January 22, following a peak in violence which began as clashes between protesters and police but also included incidences of looting separate from the protest throughout the week.
On Saturday, in a statement through Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) Minister of the Interior Hedi Majdoub had stated that the curfew would remain in effect indefinitely “until the security conditions improve”.
The protests began in Kasserine following the funeral of Ridha Yahyaoui on Sunday, January, 17. Yahyaoui, an unemployed man in his twenties, had been participating in sit in protests outside the municipal headquarters with other unemployed youth demanding municipal jobs. On Saturday, upon discovering that his name had been removed from a list job candidates maintained by the municipality, Yahyaoui climbed an electric post near the sit-in. Accounts differ as to whether he was climbing the post to deliver a speech or to make a suicide threat. Whether accidentally or as an intentional act of suicide, Yahyaoui came into contact with the high tension wires and was electrocuted. Yahyaoui was transported to the regional hospital in Sfax where he pronounced dead late on Saturday, January 16.
Although there have been several localized curfews in Tunisia in recent years, the current curfew is the first to be applied nationwide since the 2011 Tunisian Revolution.
The curfew does not apply to night workers or in emergencies.
On Friday January 22 coinciding with the declaration of a curfew throughout Tunisia, forty Tunisian and international NGO’s had issued a joint statement which expressed their solidarity with the protesters. Concerned over the impact of the curfew on peaceful protests Saloua Ghazouani, the Director of ARTICLE 19-Tunisia, in an adjoining statement on Article 19’s website added: “The reimposition of the curfew announced today by the government is a step in the wrong direction, which limits the right to protest, protected by the Constitution and international human rights standards,”
A limited curfew had been declared immediately after the November 24, 2015, suicide bombing in central Tunis which killed twelve members of Tunisia’s Presidential Guard on November 24. That curfew applied to the greater Tunis region (Tunis and the surrounding governorates of Ariana, Manouba and Ben Arous) and remained in effect for nearly three weeks after being extended several times.
A thirty day state of emergency was also declared after the November attack which was claimed by Islamic State affiliated Jund al Khilafa. The state of emergency was subsequently extended for a further sixty days and remains in effect.
The Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment cites Tunisia’s overall unemployment rate for 2014 as 15% against a rate of 15.3% in 2013, and 16.7% in 2012. Youth unemployment stands in excess of 30% nationally and higher in certain regions, particularly the interior governorates of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine.