29 January 2013 5:06 pm | | 1

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Concerns voiced by journalists about increased restrictions and censorship are highlighting the government’s refusal to adopt two laws that would protect press freedoms.

Nejiba Hamrouni, president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), denounced recent aggressive legal action taken against journalists during an interview with Tunisian radio Mosaique FM Monday.

Acts of intimidation such as the travel ban placed on blogger Olfa Riahi, who leaked potentially damaging information about Foreign Affairs Minister Rafik Abdessalem, and the four-month sentence handed down to Nizar Bahloul, director of the website Business News, for allegedly defaming a former Tunisian ambassador, are attempts “by the government to suppress and terrorize journalists, so that they will impose on themselves self-censorship and will write according to the government’s expectations,” Hamrouni said.

She added that the only way out of this predicament is the implementation of decrees 115 and 116 related to the media sector, which were issued after the revolution in an attempt to guarantee press freedom.

Decree 115 is related to the freedom of the press, printing, and publishing; it prohibits restrictions on the freedom to disseminate information and protects journalists’ sources.

Decree 116 provides for the creation of an independent authority to guarantee the freedom of audiovisual communication and issue radio and television licenses.

Both of these decrees were supposed to be implemented by the current government on November 2012, yet that has not occurred yet.

Hamrouni said she believed if the decrees were enacted, the freedom and independence of the press would be guaranteed.

Hichem Snoussi, a member in National Authority for Reform of Information and Communication, said the government has failed to apply the two decrees because it does not want journalists to become independent actors.

“Such decrees would amend the press and would guarantee its independence from the executive body (the government) in particular,” he said. “They would deprive the executive body of its supervisory authority. Then it would no longer be able to monopolize journalists.”

Hajer Aziz, a member of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) affiliated with the ruling Ennahdha party, said that the implementation of the decrees depends on the prime minister.

“It is the duty of the prime minister, not the NCA, to apply the decrees,” she said. “Yet, they should be applied because they would legalize the situation of journalists and would maintain the fourth estate.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. zarboot says:

    Are you kidding ? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
    Olfa Riahi defamed the minister and his cousin and insinuated falsely that he was having an affair, and on top of that, she said that she published those false allegations on purpose and that she is sorry.

    Bahloul is an ex RCD who was financed by the Ben ALi/Trabelsi clan who was living off the misery of Tunisians for years while promoting the dictator. Right after the revolution he published an article that maliciously defamed a former ambassador that was acquitted by the justice system for corruption allegations that were tagged on him before the revolution.

    I have not seen any censored subject nor an intervention of the executive in media affairs. All we are seeing is old guard and ex RCD journalists fighting for their old privileges of corruption and lack of integrity.

    We have a bunch of lazy journalists publishing work without substance, integrity nor honesty. They do not understand their role nor their rights. We have journalists that attend political meetings not to cover it but to participate in it. We have journalists that voice their partisan opinion in an impolite way, we have journalists that clearly voice their antagonisms against political parties in their written pieces and TV programs, we have journalists that defame and mock other politicians…and finally we have in this same website “journalists” that write about the only 2 transvestites we have in Tunisia and portray their issues as a human rights issues that trumps issues of poverty, violence, political decadence, education curricula etc…


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