Newsletter No 5 03 November 2005
News from the Media Scene:
Citizen’s Summit Challenges UN Summit in Tunisia

A Citizens’ Summit on the Information Society (CSIS) will be held in Tunis, from 16 to 18 November 2005. The event coincides with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

The UN- summit WSIS aims to ensure that benefits from the digital revolution in information and communication technologies are accessible to all by filling the gap between developed and developing countries in this field. However, the deteriorating press freedom situation in Tunisia makes the country "not a suitable place to hold a United Nations World Summit" according to the latest report of the Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) released on 26 September.

The report highlights a serious deterioration in conditions related to freedom of expression in Tunisia, particularly with respect to attacks on independent organizations, harassment of journalists and dissidents, and the independence of the judiciary. The continued imprisonment of lawyer Mohammed Abbou, who was thrown in jail in March for criticizing conditions in Tunisian prisons in an article published online, builds even more of a case against the country’s suitability to hold a UN conference.

The CSIS will complement the UN summit with a series of events organized by citizen groups from all over the world. This alternative summit will pursue two major objectives: to send a strong message of support and solidarity to the local civil society and to address the main issues being debated at the WSIS, from the perspective of citizen groups and the public.

The CSIS will consist of a series of panels and conferences addressing main WSIS issues from the public perspective. It also aims to promote the information society and the basic principles that participants consider this society must be based on and that were articulated in the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, namely human rights and social justice.

Some of the organizations supporting the CSIS are ARTICLE 19 (Global Campaign for Free Expression), FIDH (International Federation of Human Rights Leagues), HRW (Human Rights Watch), Index on Censorship, and WPFC (World Press Freedom Committee), in coordination with independent Tunisian civil society organizations.

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