08 October 2010
IFJ Calls for Immediate Release of Ailing Tunisian Journalist
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its grave concern over the well-being of Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukaddous and urged his immediate release. Boukaddous, whose health has sharply deteriorated in prison, is serving a four year jail term following his conviction in March for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons".
"We are very concerned about Boukaddous who needs urgent medical treatment unavailable to him in prison," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Boukaddous has already been denied his freedom as punishment for his independent journalism. Without immediate action his long term health is under threat."
According to family sources, Boukaddous, correspondent for the satellite channel ‘Tunisian Dialogue' has difficulties breathing and speaking and his asthma attacks have increased. The family has also complained of police harassment who monitor their movements and keep an intimidating watch near the family home and commercial premises.
The journalist was sentenced to four years in January and his conviction was upheld by a Court of Appeal in July. He was prosecuted following his reporting of public demonstrations against unemployment and corruption in the mining town of Gafsa in 2008.
In a show of solidarity, leaders of the syndicat national des journalistes tunisiens (SNJT), an IFJ affiliate, organised a demonstration outside the Gafsa prison where Boukaddous is detained on 18 September but the police stopped the gathering and turned away demonstrators.
The IFJ is also calling on the European Parliament to help secure the release of Boukaddous. The Parliament held a hearing on the situation of human rights in Tunisia during its January session in Strasbourg.
"We look to European Union institutions to leverage their pressure to save the journalist's life," added White. "But they need to act fast as his life is in danger."
According to the IFJ, the authorities continue to use the courts as a means of repression against journalists as the case of journalist Mouldi Zouabi demonstrated this week. The journalist of Radio Kalima has been remanded in custody since July in a case where he is the victim of an assault by a man who attacked him in April. Police decided not to charge the aggressor, claiming insufficient evidence. Instead, they are accusing Zouabi of violent behavior and actual bodily harm. The case was sent to a higher court on 6 October, exposing the journalist to up to two years in jail. His lawyers have resigned to protest multiple breaches of due process.
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting + 32 2 235 22 07 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 125 countries
NB/ You are reading the 77th Edition of the "Tunisian Journalist" Blog.
The last Edition was illegally censored in Tunisia.