Tunisia – SNJT calls for immediate release of detained journalists



The National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) called, in a statement issued today, Monday, June 10, 2024, for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all detained reporters, pending the completion of appeal procedures in the remaining cases where judicial decisions have been rendered.

The SNJT reiterated its call for the retreat of Decree 54, which it described as “unconstitutional,” and advocated for the implementation of Decree 115 as the only mechanism for prosecuting journalists in the areas of press and publishing.

The Union denounced the “systematic prosecutions” targeting journalists and media professionals in Tunisia based on their opinions. According to the SNJT, these actions contribute to creating an undemocratic atmosphere that hampers free media work in Tunisia and put journalists under pressure to align their work with the interests of specific parties.

The Union condemned “the persistent refusal by the authority of any critical opinion of public policies on certain crucial issues, and the limitation of the social responsibility assumed by the media”, especially in light of an electoral context which requires a level of minimum transparency and openness, to ensure the right to the media and access to information.

The Journalists’ Union revealed that journalist Ghassen bin Khalifa, editor-in-chief of the “Enhiaz” website, will appear tomorrow, Tuesday, June 11, before the court of first instance of Tunis, following his trial on the meaning of the anti-terrorism and money laundering prevention law, since the courts granted him the management of a page on the social network “Facebook” even though he had nothing to do with it.

Furthermore tomorrow Tuesday, columnist and lawyer Sonia Dahmani (detained since May 13) will appear before the investigating judge of the court of first instance of Tunis in two separate cases within the meaning of decree 54 of 2022 relating to the fight against related violations to communication systems, in addition to 3 files in which the meaning of the same decree was mentioned.

The SNJT recalled that journalist Chadha Haj Mbarek has been detained since July 2023 as part of what is known as the “Instalingo” affair, even though her case had previously been closed by the investigating judge. The journalist Mohamed Boughalleb (apprehended last March) continues to be incarcerated, in execution of a court decision rendered on April 17, 2024, stipulating that he be incarcerated for 6 months with immediate effect, following a complaint filed by a worker of the Ministry of Religious Affairs. He is being prosecuted in other cases within the meaning of decree 54, based on his comments in various media.

The union added that journalists Mourad Zeghidi and Borhane Bsaies were convicted to one year in jail because of their opinions, after being referred last month to the court of first instance of Tunis, within the meaning of the decree. 54, in addition to being prosecuted in other cases.

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