jeudi 29 juillet 2010

IFJ Condemns Harassment of Journalists' Leader in Tunisia

29 July 2010

IFJ Condemns Harassment of Journalists' Leader in Tunisia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused the authorities in Tunisia of engaging in a "relentless campaign" of intimidation and harassment of a journalists' leader.

The IFJ says Zied-el-Heni, a member of the leadership of the Syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (SNJT) and of the steering committee of the African Federation of Journalistes (FAJ), the IFJ regional group, is the victim of a campaign to undermine independent journalism.

"There is no let up in the authorities' targeting of independent journalists in Tunisia," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Zied has been reporting to the police, only to be sent home hours later and without being spoken to. The campaign against him is relentless and unacceptable."

According to SNJT, an IFJ affiliate, Zied was summoned by police twice this week and was made to wait for seven hours on 27 July before being sent home without anyone talking to him. The journalist has been a victim of attacks on independent media before. He was assaulted in October 2009 and his blog has been repeatedly blocked and censored.

His latest difficulties reportedly arise from his criticism of the Appeal Court ruling which upheld the conviction of fellow journalist Fahem Boukaddous who was sentenced on 7 July to four year prison sentence for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons".

The trial of Boukaddous was marred by concerns over the lack of due process, including a refusal to hear from the defence. The journalist was in hospital during the trial and his health has worsened since.

The IFJ is backing SNJT criticism of police action and called on the Government to ensure Zied's rights. The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) recently submitted a petition, supported by the SNJT and IFJ, to the African Union Summit calling on the continent's leaders to make journalism safer in Africa and to respect journalist's rights.

"It is high time for Tunisian authorities to heed that call and the demands of Tunisian journalists," added White. "Tunisian people have a right to independent information and our colleagues are determined to enforce it. All forms of harassment should end and detained journalists set free."

For more information contact the IFJ at +32 235 2207

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide