Rights Groups: Tunisia's media crackdown annihilating free speech

Rights Groups: Tunisia's media crackdown annihilating free speech

Tunisian authorities are systematically dismantling free speech through a media crackdown, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. The rights groups stated that repression has intensified under Decree 54, a law targeting "false news," ahead of the presidential elections this autumn.

"By attacking journalists, Saied's government is putting the last nail in the coffin of Tunisia's civic space," said Lama Fakih, Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa director. The groups condemned the "undermining of the judiciary," noting that President Kais Saied dismissed over 50 judges after his 2021 power grab. Recent arrests have targeted political opponents and civil society figures.

"Tunisian authorities are methodically annihilating the gains of the 2011 revolution: freedom of expression and the press," said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa director. Both organizations urged the government to release detainees, drop prosecutions, and repeal Decree-Law 2022-54. The rights groups highlighted the recent imprisonment of two media figures and the forceful arrest of lawyer and commentator Sonia Dahmani, asserting over 70 people have been subject to arbitrary prosecutions since 2022.

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