In its report on the reality of the press in Tunisia, Reporters Without Borders rings alarm bells

TunisiaNearly two years after Tunisian President Kais Saied assumed power, the fears of journalists, and with them international human rights organizations, are growing that there is a real desire to restrict media work and drag the Fourth Authority towards the box of instructions by repressing journalists and physically assaulting them.

Concerns were confirmed and supported by data, a recent report by Reporters Without Borders under the title “Journalism in Tunisia.. The Reality Hour”, the details of which were revealed by the director of the North African office of the organization, Suhaib Al-Assa, in a press conference in the Tunisian capital today.

He stressed that the organization “raised alarm bells” about the presence of serious threats to press and media freedom faced by journalists in Tunisia, which have escalated since President Kais Saied assumed all powers last July 25.

On the other hand, he questioned the reality of President Saeed’s commitment to standing by the freedom of the press, after the promises he made during his assumption of power, in light of the scenes of violence that affected more than 20 journalists while covering the protests on the anniversary of the revolution on January 14 last.

The stick also held the political parties in Tunisia responsible for the failure to implement the constitutional guarantees related to freedom of the press, as well as the absence of clear public policies to support the media.

Member of the Executive Office of the Journalists Syndicate, Amira Mohamed, confirmed – in turn, during the symposium – that the media’s relationship with the authority was characterized by hostility by the Ennahda parties and the Dignity and Free Constitutional Coalition before President Saeed took office, and supported what she described as new “militias” that support the president and owe him blind loyalty.

She expressed her astonishment at the lack of any clear position for the Tunisian president towards the behavior of his supporters and the threats they make through social networks against every voice opposing his policies.

The report was issued in 36 pages, and was supported by caricatures showing President Qais Saeed’s relationship with the fourth authority, and stressed in its preamble that the freedom of the press and media, which is the main gain after the revolution, has become “fragile and worrying” because of his dependence on political actors, in light of a democratic transition fraught with dangers. serious threat to media freedom.

The report also referred to the “suspicious relations” that exist between the media, politics and the business world, which impede the implementation of the necessary reforms to ensure the independence of the press sector.

The organization questioned President Kais Saied’s intentions towards the press (Getty Images)

Qais Saeed’s relationship with the press

Reporters Without Borders devoted an entire chapter in its report to talk about President Qais Saeed’s relationship with the press, and questioned the value of the promises he made since taking office, and concluded that there is an unclear commitment on his part to freedom of the press.

The organization also condemned in its report the absence of direct communication between the palace and journalists and the difficulty of their access to information, and stressed that the doors of the Carthage Palace had been closed to them since October 2019.

The report also indicated that there were serious threats against journalists after last July 25, and also highlighted the incident of security personnel storming the office of Al-Jazeera in Tunis and closing its office without showing any judicial permission.

The organization also warned of the fragility of media pluralism in Tunisia, due to the association of some institutions with “money forces and parties”, which affected their impartiality and credibility.

The report also referred to the suspicious relations that exist between the media and the worlds of politics and business, which stand in the way of implementing the necessary reforms to ensure and enhance the independence of the press sector.

WHO recommendations

Reporters Without Borders concluded – at the conclusion of its report – a number of recommendations that it addressed directly to the Tunisian authorities with the aim of ensuring real freedom of the press and media.

It called for the need to preserve the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the press that were put in place after the revolution, and stressed the basic nature of press freedom, its independence and pluralism.

She urged the dissemination of a clear roadmap for setting an urgent reform program for the media sector as a whole, through a legislative arsenal that guarantees sector reform, and called for the need to end impunity and hold accountable the perpetrators of abuses against journalists.

It is noteworthy that the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, had previously called on the Tunisian president to “commit to strict adherence to Tunisia’s constitutional guarantees and international obligations regarding freedom of the press and media and respect for it.”

He also expressed his deep concern about the “authoritarian zigzag” that the country is going through and its direct repercussions on the Tunisian press.

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