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Tunisian journalists faced 100 attacks in the last six months

October 5, 2017 at 2:14 am

The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists reported on Wednesday that 100 attacks have been recorded. These attacks affected 139 media sector workers in the country, including 34 female journalists, between March and August 2017.

This came during a press conference held by the representatives of the Syndicate at their headquarters in the capital Tunis, where they presented their semestrial report (within six months) on the freedom of media in the country.

Naji Al-Baghouri, head of Tunisian journalists’ Syndicate, declared that “the freedom of press in the country is going through a critical situation because of the repeated attacks on journalists, the fragility of employment in the sector and the inability of media to communicate, in addition to the crisis of the public media sector, which is suffering from the absence of governance, disposition and the interference of political money to influence the institutions’ editorial line.”

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Al-Baghouri stated also that “there is a real threat looming, which is the return of fear and self-censorship to journalists amid the attacks carried out against them by the authorities, and the denial of access to information sources despite the Parliament’s approval of the right of access to information.”

In its report, the Syndicate called on “the government to withdraw the bills that pose a threat to the freedom of press and to provide suitable conditions for the beginning of the Information Access Committee’s work, which is an independent public body.”

It called also on the “Ministry of the Interior to identify its agents who carried out 28 attacks against journalists and the judiciary to expedite the consideration of complaints submitted by the victims,” ​​according to the text of the report.

“There are nine cases which journalists brought before court, five of which the monitoring unit has formulated into cases, while 90% of journalists resort to reconciliation for fear of reprisals and loss of information sources,” said Khawla Shabbah, coordinator of the monitoring unit at the Syndicate’s Occupational Safety Centre, to Anadolu.

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The attacks were manifested in 9 cases, the most prominent of which was “work prevention by 28%, restricting access to information and putting restrictions on it by 53% and targeting the journalist’s dignity and physical integrity by 27%.”

The report pointed out that the attacked journalists belong to 22 radio stations, 20 television channels, 14 websites, two news agencies and two magazines.

The report mentioned that the cases where perpetrators of the attacks were members of the security forces represented 23, public officials 16 cases, officials in the government and the presidency (without mentioning their names) four cases, in addition to for cases of assault carried out by public institutions employees and one case for each of the judiciary and the public prosecution.

In 2016, the Parliament passed a law on the public’s right to access information. According to the second article, the law applies to 14 public structures, including the Presidency, the Presidency of the Government, the Council of People’s Deputies, the Central Bank and the ministries.

The same law provides the establishment of Information Access Committee, which has nine members, including two judges, an archive specialist, a university professor of communication technologies and representatives of civil society organizations and the press. It is also an independent structure with investigative powers and binding views in case a public structure does not allow the access to information.