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Tunisia: National Journalists Syndicate denounces Saied’s ‘systematic media restrictions’

September 9, 2023 at 10:21 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]

The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists on Friday denounced the authorities’ grip on the public media sector and the adoption of a policy of “systematic restrictions” and suppression of freedoms in a country undergoing a severe political crisis.

President of the syndicate Yassin Al-Jelassi announced in a press conference: “There are cases of systematic censorship to seize control of the media outlets, especially state media.”

Al-Jelassi continued: “Cases of censorship have been recorded in the state television institutions, the government news agency and the newspaper La Presse.”

The syndicate also denounced the prosecutions targeting journalists for “political” purposes.

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The Court of Appeal sentenced the correspondent to five years in prison for revealing information about a security operation on private radio station Mosaique FM. Al-Jelassi explained: “This is the heaviest penalty ever recorded against a journalist since the country’s 2011 uprising that toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.”

The syndicate’s criticism is mainly directed at Tunisian President Kais Saied, who has monopolised control over the authorities in the country since 2021. Since then, Tunisian and international human rights organisations have denounced the tightening restrictions on the freedom of expression in the country.

At the beginning of August, Saied met with the General Director of State Television Awatef Al-Dali and strongly criticised the content of programmes shown on the television.

Saied said at the time: “The number of programmes and order of news in the news bulletins are not innocent at all. What is being broadcast in the national institution cannot continue in this way.”

At the end of June, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk expressed his “deep concern” about increasing restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and press freedom in Tunisia.

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