Tunisia: Attacks on Freedom of Expression

The Tunisian government is confirming again its “strong support” for freedom of speech. According to local journalists on Tuesday, January 27th plainclothes policemen surrounded the offices of the newly launched satellite radio station Kalima and detained one of its journalists, Dhafer Ottey. On Wednesday, Kalima’s journalists and reporters stayed in the building and continued to broadcast. The policemen also verbally and physically assaulted individuals associated with Kalima. Human rights activist, Zouhair Makhlouf, was attacked (as shown in the video) as well Omar Mestiri, the editor-in-chief of Kalima's website, who was threatened by knife with death. The policemen kept on insulting Kalima’s journalists who were not inside the building and many of the people who came there to show their support for Kalima’s staff. On Friday January 30th, the policemen entered the premises and seized the equipment used for broadcasting. Here is the video showing the siege on Kalima.

Furthermore the Ministry of Interior seized on Friday, January 30th ,the 113th issue of the dissident newspaper “Attariq El Jadid” before its delivery to kiosks claiming that the newspaper published the legal document of the interrogation of a detainee in what is known as “Gafsa Events”. The publishing of which is illegal according to the Acts 63 and 73 of the Journalism code which prohibits the publishing of legal documents. According to the law, these documents can not be published until after they have been presented publicly in a court of law. In this particular case, the legal documents in question had been presented in court on January 11th, 2009, therefore making the publication legal according to journalists. The blog Farda-wla9at -O5taha talked about this censorship today by reporting the article of the French news paper ” Le MONDE ‘

Tunisie: un journal d'opposition saisi pour violation du Code de la presse.

L'hebdomadaire d'opposition tunisien “Ettarik Al-Jadid” (la nouvelle voie) a été saisi samedi par décision judiciaire pour violation du Code de la presse, a-t-on appris de source gouvernementale.

La saisie a été ordonnée “en vertu des articles 63 et 73 du Code la presse”, selon un communiqué publié par l'agence gouvernementale TAP.

Hatem Chaâbouni, directeur de l'organe bilingue du Mouvement Ettajdid (Renouveau, légal), a indiqué à l'AFP que le numéro saisi diffusait une transcription de l'interrogatoire de Bechir Laabidi, un des dirigeants du mouvement social de Gafsa (sud) dont le procès en appel est en cours.

“L'interrogatoire d'un prévenu peut être rendu public dès lors que les audiences publiques au procès ont commencé”, a assuré pour sa part Adel Chaouch, rédacteur en chef du journal.

Les articles du Code de la presse invoqués interdisent, sauf autorisation du juge, la publication de tout acte de procédure pénale et sanctionnent “celui qui, à la suite des troubles, a accepté de se substituer aux autorités régulièrement constituées”, la punition pouvant aller dans ce cas jusqu'à l'emprisonnement à vie.

Bechir Laabidi fait partie d'une trentaine de Tunisiens poursuivis pour leur participation à un mouvement de protestation sociale dans la région minière de Gafsa et dont le procès en appel ouvert le 13 janvier reprendra mardi prochain.

Il fait suite à des condamnations allant jusqu'à 10 ans de prison prononcées en première instance le 11 décembre à Gafsa (350 km au sud-ouest de Tunis).

La saisie de l'hebdomadaire intervient alors qu'une enquête a été ouverte par le parquet tunisien sur le lancement sans autorisation de Kalima, une station dirigée par la journaliste dissidente Sihem Bensedrine, selon une source gouvernementale.

“Radio Kalima” avait commencé à émettre lundi mais ses locaux ont été perquisitionnés vendredi et les équipements saisis, a indiqué à l'AFP un de ses collaborateurs.

Tunisia : The Censorship of a Dissident News paper for Press's Code Volation.

The Tunisian weekly news paper “Attariq Al-Jadid has been seized by court order for violation of the Code of the press, as it was learnt by governmental source.
The seizure was ordered ” by virtue of articles 63 and 73 of the Code the press “, according to a communiqué published by the governmental agency TAP.

Hatem Chaâbouni, director of the bilingual organ of the Movement Ettajdid (Renewal Party , legal ) pointed to the AFP that the seized issu spreada transcription of the interrogation of Bechir Laabidi, one of the leaders of the social movement of Gafsa ( South) the lawsuit of which in appeal is in progress.

The interrogation of an accused can be made public since the public audiences in the lawsuit began”, assured for his part Adel Chaouch, chief editor of the newspaper.

Articles of the Code of the press called forbid, except license of the judge, the publication of any act of penal procedure and sanction ” the one who, following troubles, agreed to substitute himself for the regularly established(constituted) authorities “, the punishment which can go in that case to the detention with life.

Bechir Laabidi is a part of a group of thirty Tunisians pursued for their participation in a movement of social protest in the mining area of Gafsa and among which the lawsuit in appeal opened January 13th will start again next Tuesday.

He is subject to condemnations going to 10 years of prison pronounced in first authority on December 11th in Gafsa (350 km in the southwest of Tunis).

The seizure of the weekly occurred while an investigation was opened by the Tunisian public prosecutor's department on the launch without authorization of Kalima, a radio station steered by the dissident journalist Sihem Bensedrine, according to a governmental source.

“Radio Kalima” had begun to broadcast on Monday but its premises were searched on Friday and the seized equipments, indicated to AFP one of his(her) co-workers.


  • What you are reporting here is not true. The government is not attacking the freedom of speech because these persons upon whom you talk, they have violated the law and the regulations. It is common in all countries around the globe, that if you want to laungh a TV channel or a Radio Station, you must follow some procedure of administrative and/or legal requirements. However, the owner of Kalima did not respect the law. Moreover, concerning the censorship of the newspaper, it is clear that if you violate law, you will be punished! It is not a question of limited freedom, it is question of people who are wanting to diminish their country and to make troubles to the regimes using all ways including telling foreigners incorrect news. In Tunisia, as well as whatever around the globe, you can do whatever you want but within the frameworks of the Constitution, laws and regulations. These people are breaking and violating the laws then they complaint about the government’s attitude. This is unfair from their parts..you shoud not believe them.

  • anon

    it seems in Tunisia according to the paranoid regime, that ALL opposition has not followed the laws applicable, which is absolute rubbish. Whether it is newspapers, radio stations, opposition politicians, “real” human rights groups, and family of people from these organizations. they just harrass them, and make their lives hell in order to protect their corrupt way of life of stealing from the coffers of the nation. these mafia who call them selves government.

  • @Legend of the fall:

    What you are telling is just not true . The owner of Kalima tried to follow the rules but she never got an answer for her request to launch the channel . The video tells evrything even if kalima staff did not respect the law the policemen do not have the right to act the way they are acting . Furthermore for the news paper the explanation is clear , the news paper didn t violate the law .The whole planet knows the truth about freedom of speech in Tunisia , many foreign journalists experienced violence in Tunisia and reports ( censored in Tunisia) about the World summit of society of information of 2005
    are enough to reveal this truth .

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