Tunisian Journalists Protest Government Control of Media
Dozens of journalists in Tunis protested Wednesday over what they see an attempt by the recently elected Enhada party-led government to control the media, after its appointment of a controversial new director. Journalists from Tunisian dailies Essabah and Le Temps gathered near government headquarters “calling for a free press and criticising the ruling Islamist party,” according to the AFP. Both groups belong to the Dar Assabah press group, recently appropriated by the Tunisian state, and are angry at the recent appointment of its new director Lotfi Touati. Touati, who is a former head of a newspaper with ties to the Enhada party, has been criticized as a former propagandist of ousted President Ben Ali.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Tunisia Wednesday to immediately drop the charges and lift the travel ban against former presidential adviser Ayoub Massoudi for criticizing the country’s armed services. According to HRW, “Massoudi was charged on August 15, 2012, with impugning the reputation of the army after being apprehended while passing through customs in Tunis’ airport. “The right to subject public officials to scrutiny and criticism is one of the most basic elements of freedom of expression,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “These charges, and the laws they are based on, should have no place in a democratic Tunisia that respects human rights.
Elsewhere, the United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice called on the government of Tunisia “to safeguard the country’s achievements on equality, non-discrimination and women’s human rights.” The Working Group is concerned particularly with Article 28 of the country’s new draft constitution, which they say risks rolling back achievements in women’s human rights and social status. Critics fear that the draft, which defines the position of women as ”complementary to the one of the men in the family,” does not consider women and independent, full individuals.