Press Freedom: Tunisia: New Breaches of the Right to Freedom of Expression
His Excellency Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
President of Tunisia
Fax : +216 71 744 721
24 January 2007
We are writing on behalf of the
International Freedom of Expression Exchange Tunisia Monitoring Group,
a coalition of 16 press freedom and freedom of expression
organisations, to express our serious concern that Tunisian authorities
arbitrarily ordered Dar Assabah not to issue its new weekly magazine
L'Expression and banned the French magazine Historia Thématique.
According to reports, the first issue
of L'Expression, published by Dar Assabah, was scheduled to appear on 5
January. However, despite first being told by the government that the
magazine would be permitted, shortly before publication of the first
issue the authorities ordered Dar Assabah not to publish the magazine.
In early January, the government also
banned the January-February issue of the French magazine Historia
Thématique, which examined issues of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
This is the first time since its establishment in 1909 that Historia
Thématique has been banned.
The order not to publish L'Expression
and the banning of Historia Thématique are the latest acts in a
campaign of state harassment of the media, a campaign that includes
censoring publications and jailing journalists.
We respectfully remind you that
forbidding the publication of L'Expression and banning Historia
Thématique are clear breaches of the right to freedom of expression,
which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the
Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and
expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without
interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas
through any media, regardless of frontiers."
We respectfully call on you to permit
the publication of L'Expression and the distribution of the banned
issue of Historia Thématique immediately and to halt the campaign of
media intimidation. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure
that in future your country fully respects international standards of
freedom of expression.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Members of the IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group: Arabic Human Rights Information Network (HRinfo), Egypt ARTICLE 19, UK Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Canada Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), Egypt Index on Censorship, UK International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), Belgium International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), The Netherlands International Press Institute (IPI), Austria International Publishers' Association (IPA), Switzerland Journaliste en danger (JED), Democratic Republic of Congo Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia Norwegian PEN, Norway World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Canada World Association of Newspapers (WAN), France World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), USA Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC), UK