Tunisia: stampa internazionale sotto assedio
Civil Society's Media Caucus at WSIS expresses its indignation over a
of incidents in which Tunisian authorities have hampered the freedom of
expression of journalists and their freedom of association as well as
of others attending the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the
In addition to problems involving denial of entry to Tunisia; the
incidents have occurred in the days preceding the summit:
Christophe Boltanski, a correspondent for the Paris daily newspaper
'Libération', was beaten and stabbed and had his personal effects
near his hotel in the embassy district. When he cried for help, guards
standing outside a nearby embassy did not intervene. The attack took
day after Libération published Boltanski's report about clashes between
police and activists protesting in support of seven hunger strikers
campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Tunisia.
Representatives of Tunisian and foreign media and human rights
were prevented by a large number of Tunisian plainclothes police from
entering the Goethe Institute, the cultural centre of the German
Tunis, for a meeting to plan events parallel to the Summit.
A Belgian television cameraman approaching the Institute had his camera
seized by plainclothes police who forced themselves into the TV crew's
vehicle. The camera was only returned after the film cassette had been
confiscated. The police stated that no pictures may be taken in Tunisia
without prior official authorisation and prevented another reporter
taking photographs of the incident. A Tunisian journalist approaching
site was beaten by police.
Various websites which have contained criticism of Tunisia are
the delegates at the official WSIS venue, but remain blocked and
the rest of Tunisia.
Such incidents call into question the seriousness of the Tunisian
to allow full freedom of expression and association at the WSIS.
The incidents show that prior concerns about the observance of human
in Tunisia have been justified, underlining the widespread nature of
official abuses in the country.
They also illustrate that concerns about holding a United Nations
dealing with communication and freedom of expression in such a country
To correct the situation the Tunisian government and the International
Communication Union as the relevant UN authority organising the summit,
- Guarantee equal right to access information via the internet both
and outside of the summit site.
- Guarantee that all journalists have the right to freely report in
without fear or intimidation.
- Guarantee that the international media and summit delegates have the
to free movement and to meet with colleagues in the Tunisian media and
society, outside of the official summit site, without threats or
intimidation from the police or government authorities.
- Ensure that Tunisian journalists and civil society members meeting
the international community are not subject to retribution and that
speech, press freedom and other human rights are respected in Tunisia
Summit delegates have gone home.
Given the above incidents and the overall poor human rights record of
Tunisia it seems to us that the UN system has contracted a moral
to follow up. It should name a special rapporteur to monitor freedom of
expression and other human rights in Tunisia.
For further information, contact Joel Rubin, ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell
London, EC1R 1UQ, U.K., tel: +44 20 7278 9292, fax: +44 20 7278 7660,
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