The Tunisian commission charged with drafting Tunisia’s new media laws resigned yesterday.
Kamel Labidi, head of The National Authority for the Reform of Information and Communication (INRIC) quit his role citing the government’s unwillingness to create the institutions of a free press.
The INRIC was created following the fall of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime in January 2011, and has spent the past year drafting a new press code to regulate the media sector.
Labidi says the commission “does not see the point in continuing its work” since the new democratically elected Islamist government, dominated by the Ennahda party has failed to take action to improve press freedom and implement new media laws.
Both the INRIC and Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation that defends the freedom of the press, have voiced concerns about the government’s failure to implement decrees intended to safeguard journalists and provide guidelines for media regulation.
Reporters Without Borders said on Tuesday:
“In the absence of clear legislation respecting international standards, senior public broadcasting personnel are being appointed in a way reminiscent of the old regime’s methods.”
Hichem Senoussi, a member of INRIC speaking on behalf of the committee said that it “refuses to be just a decoration. The government is trying to control the media sector,”
“Since this government came to power, we have noticed the absence of concrete measures to reform the [media] sector. In fact, the government is interfering in media through the appointment of new officials,” he added.
“We call for the independence of the media, and this cannot be done with the government’s continued interference,” said Senoussi.
Kamel Labidi said the INRIC warns of “the gravity of the situation in the realm of information and accuses the government of reverting to forms of censorship and disinformation.”
The Tunisian authorities have not yet responded to the closure of The National Authority for the Reform of Information and Communication.