TUNIS: Tunisia’s journalists’ syndicate on Friday denounced state censorship of mass media and said authorities have “repressed” freedoms in the country reeling under a political and economic crisis.
“The freedom of the press is increasingly repressed and the authorities are adopting a policy of lockdown and censorship to enforce their control over the media, particularly state media,” the head of the SNJT union, Mehdi Jelassi, told a news conference.
He said “cases of censorship have been recorded on national television programs, on the TAP news agency and the newspaper La Presse,” all of which are state-owned.
Jelassi argued that such “methodical censorship” aims to remove the voices of the opposition or civil society organizations from broadcasts or the press.
The syndicate also denounced “intimidation” of journalists through judicial prosecution and interrogations that are “purely political.”
Jelassi pointed to a case involving a journalist on the privately-owned Mosaique FM who was recently sentenced on appeal to five years in prison for publishing information linked to a security operation.
“This is the heaviest penalty ever recorded against a journalist” since the country’s 2011 uprising that toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, added Jelassi.
Local and international rights organizations have warned over the past two years of a steady slide toward authoritarianism ever since President Kais Saied staged a power grab on July 25, 2021.
In early August, Saied had summoned the CEO of national television, Awatef Daly, to denounce the order of the news bulletin on the evening broadcast, saying the choice was “not innocent.”
His reproach, published on the presidency website, sparked a wave of criticism among journalists.
The SNJT at the time denounced the move, urging Saied to “respect the independence of the media.”
Source : Arab News