Newswatch | Newswatch

You are here

IFJ condemns harassment of journalists' leader in Tunisia

Solidarity: Expats in Paris protest censorship and civil rights abuses in home country Tunisia.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has accused the authorities in Tunisia of engaging in a "relentless campaign" of intimidation and harassment of a journalists' leader. IFJ says Zied-el-Heni, a member of the leadership of the Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (SNJT) and of the steering committee of the African Federation of Journalistes (FAJ), the IFJ regional group, is the victim of a campaign to undermine independent journalism.

"There is no let up in the authorities' targeting of independent journalists in Tunisia," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, on Thursday. "Zied has been reporting to the police, only to be sent home hours later and without being spoken to. The campaign against him is relentless and unacceptable."

According to SNJT, an IFJ affiliate, Zied was summoned by police twice this week and was made to wait for seven hours on July 27 before being sent home without anyone talking to him. The journalist has been a victim of attacks on independent media before. He was assaulted in October 2009 and his blog has been repeatedly blocked and censored.

His latest difficulties reportedly arise from his criticism of the Appeal Court ruling which upheld the conviction of fellow journalist Fahem Boukaddous who was sentenced on July 7 to four year prison sentence for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons". The trial of Boukaddous was marred by concerns over the lack of due process, including a refusal to hear from the defence. The journalist was in hospital during the trial and his health has worsened since.

IFJ is backing SNJT criticism of police action and called on the Government to ensure Zied's rights. The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) recently submitted a petition, supported by the SNJT and IFJ, to the African Union Summit calling on the continent's leaders to make journalism safer in Africa and to respect journalist's rights.

"It is high time for Tunisian authorities to heed that call and the demands of Tunisian journalists," added White. "Tunisian people have a right to independent information and our colleagues are determined to enforce it. All forms of harassment should end and detained journalists set free."

Date posted: July 30, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 118