Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the military prosecutor to drop charges against two journalists “impugning” the reputation of the army.
The organisation said in a statement that trying Rached Khiari and Jamel Arfaoui in a military tribunal instead of civilian court “violates the norm of international law that military courts should not have jurisdiction over civilians.”
Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch, Amna Guellali, went on to explain how “military courts are resorting again and again to the same article of military law to muzzle speech.”
She further added that authorities should instead be doing more to change the laws adopted under former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule that criminalised any form of criticism of institutions or public or high-ranking figures.
On 16 November, Khiari, chief editor of newspaper and website Al Sadaa, was charged by a military prosecutor with impugning the reputation of the army and “undermining its morale under both the code of military justice and the penal code”.
A month earlier, a military prosecutor also charged Jamel Arfaoui, an independent journalist, with impugning the reputation of the army in an article on the website Tunisie-telegraph.com, under article 91 of the code of military justice.