Report from Tunisia 20. June 2011: The Scars of Oppression Run Deep

Tunis 20.06.11:

If Tunisians are to play an informed part in the transition phase and beyond, they need a free and independent media and a strong, democratic and open civil society to hold power to account, according to a new report published by the 21 members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange – Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), including ARTICLE 19.

The Scars of Oppression Run Deep: Assessing the Critical Requirements for Freedom of Expression in Tunisia’s Democratic Transition report was released on 16 June, 2011 to national and international media as well as local civil society groups at a press conference held in Tunis. It provides a sample of opinions gathered from a broad cross-section of over 60 media professionals, civil society advocates and authorities interviewed in Tunisia during the course of a mission that took place from 9 to 16 April.

“The Tunisian government must – in consultation with stakeholders – put in place a conducive framework that will ensure pluralism and diversity in the media. The new media landscape should take in to account the democratic aspirations of Tunisians and address swiftly the monopoly of the sector by the close allies of the former regime,” said Fatou Jagne Senghore, ARTICLE 19 representative for the TMG, during the press conference in Tunis.

The IFEX-TMG is a coalition of 21 IFEX members, including ARTICLE 19, which campaigns to raise awareness of free expression violations in Tunisia and to support independent journalists, writers, and civil society activists in their struggle to end censorship in the country.

The report documents key concerns and immediate challenges regarding censorship and freedom of expression in Tunisia. Recognising the advances that have already been made since 14 January, it also addresses the fundamental issues raised by key stakeholders with regards to maintaining the momentum of change and ensuring the widest participation for the democratic transition to succeed.

In a detailed set of recommendations, the report outlines the work required by the transitional government, civil society groups, the media and consultative bodies in order to guarantee freedom of expression in the country. The most immediate concerns include:

– To redress the lingering effects of the former regime that are having a negative effect on the transition process across many areas of society, and in particular the media.
– To ensure plural voices are heard and informed debates undertaken so that the people of Tunisia can continue to effectively engage and shape their own futures.
– To support Tunisian journalists in their ongoing efforts to strengthen professional skills and standards, particularly in view of the forthcoming elections.

Read the whole report on this link.