Tunisian government says EU has 'no reason' to worry about human rights group

Tunisian authorities on Thursday said the European Union has no reason to worry about the ability of a Tunisian human rights group to operate in the north African country.

An official Tunisian statement was responding to "concern" expressed Tuesday by the EU about the ability of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights to continue its work.

Brussels referred to "obstruction" of the group's activities, an apparent reference to a Tunisian court ruling last week that suspended the league's conference scheduled to take place from Sept. 9-11.

"The EU expresses its wish that the (League) will be able to continue its work to promote and protect human rights in Tunisia," the EU statement said.

The court decision came after league members with close ties to Tunisia's ruling political party accused the organization's leadership of violating its internal rules.

The 25-member EU said human rights were an important element in its political dialogue with Tunisia under an association accord signed with the country in 1995.

"No objective reason ... justifies any 'concern' about the situation of the Tunisian League of Human Rights," the government statement said. "Tunisia shares the EU's attachment to dialogue and exchange of views under the framework of the association accord."

The group was facing "an internal crisis," the statement said, adding that President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has made an "irreversible commitment" to respecting human rights since he took power in 1987, AP reported.

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