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Tunisia: Journalists protests as int’l media banned from covering parliamentary proceedings

March 14, 2023 at 8:36 am

Tunisian journalists hold signs during a protest demanding press freedom outside the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) in Tunis [FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images]

Tunisia’s Journalists’ Syndicate protested against a decision to prevent journalists from private and international media outlets from covering the opening session of parliament, which resumed work Monday, after a 20-month freeze.

Security services stationed in front of the doors of the parliament only allowed state-run media representatives into the building, leaving dozens of journalists and photographers waiting outside. Parliament officials did not provide any explanation or reasons for the ban.

The Journalists’ Syndicate condemned the ban in a statement, describing it as “a dangerous precedent” that violates rights guaranteed by the constitution and legislation and the right to know and to access information. The syndicate also said that this ban opens the door to imposing “blackout” policies.

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“This dangerous practice is part of a systematic policy adopted by the authorities targeting female and male journalists and freedom of the press,” the syndicate added.

Although President Kais Saied pledged to guarantee freedom of the press and expression, the frequency of lawsuits against journalists, bloggers and activists has raised the syndicate’s concerns.

The syndicate said its executive office meets regularly to consider mechanisms to address these “backward and coercive practices,” according to the statement.

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