2006: Tunisia: Mohamad Abbou

Oslo, 19 December 2006

Président Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,
Président de la République,
Palais Présidentiel,

Your Excellency,

The IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group, a coalition of 16 free expression organisations, is calling attention to human rights violations in Tunisia, where journalists and rights activists known for criticising the government are being harassed by authorities.

The TMG has received reports that the family of jailed human rights activist and lawyer Mohamed Abbou is constantly followed and harassed by the police. The latest incident occurred on 25 October 2006 in the capital, Tunis, when Abbou’s wife, Samia, and her two children were harassed by policemen on the street.

Journalist Hamadi Jebali has been harassed for attempting to visit Moncef Marzouki, the jailed leader of the Congress for the Republic, a political party banned in Tunisia. Marzouki has been charged with «incitement to civil disobedience,» an offence punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. Another journalist, Mohamed Fourati, faces charges of belonging to a banned organisation. He appeared in court in the southern city of Gafsa on 1 December.

According to the  National Council for Liberties (CNLT) in Tunis, its mail is regularly intercepted and Internet access has been cut off. Observing that the country that in 2005 organized the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, makes access to email services such as Hotmail  inaccessible to Tunisians, and that more Tunisians have been arrested for expressing themselves on the Internet during the past three years than for views carried by the print media since the country’s independence in 1958,

I, as chair of Writers in Prison Committee in Norwegian PEN, remain concerned regarding the conditions of human rights and freedom of expression in Tunisia, and I urge you, Your Excellency, to take immediate action to remedy these conditions.

Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours faithfully

Elisabet W. Middelthon/sign.
Chair Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee

Carl Morten Iversen
secretary general
Tunisian Embassy, Oslo
Norwegian Embassy, Tunisia,
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs