Reports   |   Tunisia

Tunisia Report: The Smiling Oppressor: Recommendations

To the government of Tunisia

CPJ calls on the government of Tunisia to implement the following recommendations aimed at bringing the country's practices in line with international standards.
  • State publicly that the Tunisian government has a duty under internationally recognized norms of free expression to ensure media freedom and pluralism, including the dissemination of diverse views and opinions critical of prevailing state policies.

  • Encourage journalists to carry out independent reportingâ€"including critical news coverage of the president, high-level government officials, and governmental bodiesâ€"by issuing an explicit guarantee that authorities will not penalize them, directly or indirectly, for such professional activities.

  • Cease all official interference in the daily operation of newspapers, including newspaper confiscations and attempts to direct news coverage in newsrooms.

  • Encourage independence and diversity in the local press. Allow independent newspapers to register and operate freely including Kalima, which has been denied registration by the Interior Ministry.

  • End the harassment and intimidation of dissident journalists. This includes violent attacks, threats, imprisonment, politically motivated lawsuits, surveillance by police and security forces, and the withholding of travel documents and permission to travel internationally and within the country.

  • Ensure that the Tunisian External Communication Agency (ATCE) produces clear and transparent guidelines for the distribution of government advertising that ensure fairness and do not discriminate on the basis of editorial content.

  • Institute a fair and transparent process for the licensing of private broadcast media with the aim of fostering independent outlets, including those that are critical of the government and its policies.

  • Halt the practice of blocking Web sites critical of Tunisian authorities and reverse existing bans on sites such as Tunisnews, IFEX, Kalima, Youtube, and many others.

  • End restrictions on foreign news organizations working in Tunisia. Ensure that journalists denied accreditation, such as Al-Jazeera's Lotfi al-Hajji, are allowed to carry out their professional activities unhindered.

To the U.S. government:

  • Raise at the highest levels with the Tunisian government, both in public and in private, concerns about the harassment, intimidation, and censorship of independent journalists.

  • Make clear that bilateral relations with the United States are contingent on the government's respect for press freedom and clearly defined steps to improve conditions in the country.

To members of the U.S. Congress and, in particular, the Tunisia Caucus:

  • Raise at the highest levels with the Tunisian government, both in public and in private, concerns about harassment, censorship, and intimidation of independent journalists.

  • Use the Tunisia Caucus as a forum to publicly address the country's poor press freedom record and make clear that good relations with the United States are predicated on the government's respect for human rights and press freedom.

  • Meet with independent journalists and persecuted reporters during visits to Tunisia.

  • Speak out publicly and in private about press freedom abuses during visits to Tunisia and do not allow state media to exploit such visits for propaganda.

  • Support legislation, such as the Global Online Freedom Act (HR 275), that promotes freedom of expression on the Internet and proposes measures against countries such as Tunisia that restrict the Internet.

  • Support briefings on Capitol Hill for dissident Tunisian journalists to discuss press freedom conditions.

To the European Union:

  • Raise at the highest levels with the Tunisian government, both in public and in private, concerns about harassment, censorship, and intimidation of independent journalists.

  • Uphold human rights provisions stipulated in the European Union's association agreement with Tunisia.

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