Repression against journalists in Tunisia worries the UN: Since Tunisia voluntarily aligned itself with Algeria in exchange for gas, democracy has suffered an alarming setback, jeopardizing the achievements of the Arab Spring. This situation has led the UN Human Rights Office to strongly condemn the repression of journalists in the country.
Repression of journalists in Tunisia worries the UN
Like Algeria, Tunisia has adopted legislation that treats independent journalism as a criminal act, thereby silencing criticism of the authorities.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, expressed his concern at this situation, declaring: “It is worrying to see that Tunisia, a country that once held out so much hope, has regressed and lost the human rights gains of the last decade.”
According to him, the repression that had previously targeted judges, politicians, union leaders, businessmen and civil society actors, has now spread to target independent journalists, who are constantly harassed and prevented from carrying out their work. The High Commissioner called on Tunisia to change course.
Like Algeria, Tunisia uses anti-terrorist legislation to silence independent journalistic voices.
The United Nations Human Rights Office in Tunisia has documented twenty-one cases of alleged human rights violations against journalists since July 2021, including prosecutions before civilian and military courts, according to Volker Türk.
Human rights on the wane in President Saied’s Tunisia
The silence imposed on journalists in a coordinated effort undermines the crucial and necessary role of independent media and has a corrosive effect on society as a whole, he stressed.
Last April, after a series of arbitrary arrests and false accusations against outspoken journalists, Algeria decided to institutionalize its repression of freedom of expression by drafting a law that transforms media silence into a legal procedure.
Last febrary, dozens of Tunisian journalists and rights activists demonstrated in the streets of the capital, Tunis, to denounce “state repression” and attempts to intimidate the media.
The protest, organised by a journalists’ union, SNJT, came three days after police arrested Noureddine Boutar, the director of a popular private radio station, Mosaïque FM.
Boutar is one of 10 public figures arrested since Saturday, mainly critics of President Kais Saied, including members of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party.
“The authorities, at all levels including the president and the prime minister, are seeking to repress press freedom and there are many indicators that prove this, such as military trials, decree-law no. 54, allegations over editorial outlines and other practises”, denounced Amira Mohamed, vice-president of the SNJT journalists’ union.