One year on from the collapse of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime, the battle for media freedom in Tunisia still continues. On January 27, a statement from journalist unions and media organisations was released under the slogan “no to assaults against journalists, no to restrictions on freedoms of expression, and no to guardianship over media”.
On Wednesday this week, representatives of professional media organisations invited all print, digital, TV and radio media outlets to devote the day to the defence of press freedom. Media representatives also met with the President of the constituent assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafa, who said that Tunisia’s new government will work to secure such freedoms.
“In reaction to the increasing violations of freedoms of opinion, expression, and press, which included physical assaults against journalists, people of conscience, and media sector employees, carried out by extremist groups hiding behind the mask of religion[…] and in reaction to the passivity of the government in dealing with this situation[…] the representatives of professional media organisations invite all media outlets, printed, audio visual, and electronic to dedicate the day of 1 February to addressing the issues of media independence, and freedom of expression.”
The statement follows a series of attacks on journalism in Tunisia since the revolution. Index on Censorship, an organisation that campaigns for freedom of expression, reported that the journalist Haythem El Mekki is set to lose his job after criticising the Islamist political party Ennahda. Nabil Karoui, the general director of Nessma TV in Tunisia is facing charges after broadcasting the animated film Persepolis. Amnesty International who are campaigning for the charges to be dropped against the TV boss have said that if convicted, Karoui will face up to three years in prison. Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s interim Director for Middle East and North Africa has said that “While Tunisia is making progress in some human rights areas, clearly there is still a great deal of work to be done when it comes to respecting the right to freedom of expression.”
Source: Index on Censorship