Tunisia: The increased use of subpoenas and the continued detention of journalists constitute serious violations of demostic and international law
Stockholm - Skyline International expresses concern about the practices of the Tunisian authorities towards journalists and media workers, in particular arrests, summonses and transfers for judicial proceedings. Skyline International stresses that the escalation of attacks against journalists in Tunisia is a violation of international legal norms that guarantee freedom of opinion, expression and journalism without restriction or persecution.
In a statement issued today, Sunday, Skyline notes that the most recent of these violations occurred when, in response to a complaint from a security agency, the security services summoned two journalists, Haitham al-Makki and Elias al-Gharbi, who work for the widely heard radio station "Mosaique FM," for an investigation.
Skyline explains that "Al-Gharbi" presents a political and dialogical program that criticizes the authorities in Tunisia, whereas "Al-Makki" in the same program broadcasts a daily space for the press in a sarcastic manner and has previously criticized the security authorities' handling of the attack in Djerba that targeted a Jewish synagogue and claimed several victims. They were summoned last week after speaking out about some local events, in addition to their constant criticism of the police's handling of Tunisian citizens and the opposition.
In addition, Skyline points out that "Radio Mosaique FM" has been under pressure from the security services for several months for speaking out about the decisions of the President and the practices of the police services. It points out that the judicial authorities arrested the director of "Mosaique FM", journalist "Noureddine Boutar", three months ago on suspicion of money laundering, but his defense says he has been asked to change the radio's editorial line and stop harshly criticizing the authorities.
The journalist of "Mosaique FM" Khalifa Al-Qasimi was sentenced to five years in prison, and other journalists were also summoned for investigations and charged for their journalistic work.
Skyline is also concerned about the increase in harassment and subpoenas against journalists, as security services have attacked more than just Radio Mosaique staff. For example, journalist "Monia Al-Arfawy" and journalist "Mohamed Bouglab" will be summoned in the coming days after the Tunisian government's Minister of Religious Affairs, "Ibrahim Chaibi," filed a complaint against them stating that he had already investigated them twice.
Tunisian journalist Walid Al-Hamraoui ( TV ) was also recently summoned for questioning for writing a piece that authorities say "contains illegal abuses."
Amin Al-Dabaybi, a "Radio MAD" journalist, was summoned a few days ago to be interrogated in connection with a complaint filed against him by the Minister of Religious Affairs.
Skyline confirms that the harassment of journalists in Tunisia seriously and unjustifiably violates the generally accepted rules of journalistic work, the Tunisian constitution and many international agreements, foremost of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the right to transfer, obtain and publish information without restriction or threat.
Skyline emphasizes that these restrictions are connected to the country's ongoing decline as a result of the Tunisian president's decisions on July 25, 2021, according to which he suspended the work of the parliament and lifted the immunity of its members since he assumed all power. These decisions led to the restriction of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the illegal surveillance of newspapers and websites, in clear and unjustified violation of a wide range of rules and conventions of international law.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the President of the Republic, Kais Saeed, to reverse all unlawful decisions that violate the fundamental rights of individuals, stressing that the continuation of these decisions will have disturbing consequences, as they constitute a serious violation of the rules and conventions of international law.
Finally, Skyline calls on Tunisian authorities to end the policy of persecuting and subpoenaing journalists in Tunisia and allow them to exercise their right to report, comment, and express their views without restriction or persecution, and stresses that authorities must immediately and unconditionally release all journalists and prisoners of conscience.