Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Tunisia - Serious concerns for World Summit on the Information Society

A joint monitoring visit to Tunisia undertaken by members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) has found serious cause for continuing concern about the current state of freedom of expression and of civil liberties in Tunisia, including gross restrictions on freedom of the press, media, publishing and the Internet.

The visit, which took place from 14 to 19 January 2005, was the first of the IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group and was organized in preparation for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the state of freedom of expression in Tunisia and to assess the conditions for participation in the Summit.

The delegation, consisting of representatives of Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), International PEN Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), International Publishers Association (IPA), Norwegian PEN, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), met with Tunisian writers, publishers and human rights organizations as well as government officials and government-sponsored agencies.

The delegation found serious cause for continuing concern in the following areas:
1. Blocking of websites, including news and information websites.
2. Blocking of the distribution of books and publications.
3. Restrictions on the freedom of association, including the right of organizations to be legally established and to hold meetings.
4. Restrictions on movement of human rights activists together with police surveillance, intimidation and interception of communications.
5. Lack of pluralism in broadcast ownership, with only one private broadcaster.
6. Press censorship and lack of diversity of content in newspapers.
7. Imprisonment of individuals for their opinions and media activities.
8. Use of torture by the security services with impunity.

Source: IFEX

IFEX French text

IFEX Spanish text