The International Federation of Journalists today welcomed an announcement action by the Association of Tunisian Journalists pledging support for journalists and media visiting the country for the World Summit on the Information Society which opens next week.
The AJT, which is a member of the IFJ, has called on the Tunisian authorities to ensure all journalists can freely report on the event. The Association issued a press statement this week calling on the Tunisian government to guarantee free access to the Internet for all journalists. The Association has also set up a “hotline” for journalists participating in the summit to provide advice and assistance. The "hotline" number is (+216) 71 253 205.
The Association believes the World Summit provides an opportunity to strengthen respect for press freedom and more access to information in a country that has come under fire from some free expression groups for its failure to respect basic rights.
“The action by the Association of journalists sends a powerful signal that Tunisian journalists are lining up to support the global consensus that the information era is about free access to information, an end to censorship and support for media pluralism,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.
The IFJ says that the voice of Tunisian journalists needs to be heard during the days of the Summit. “There is no doubt that Tunisia’s political style is out of step in a world that is rapidly changing,” said White. “It’s time for obstacles to press freedom to be lifted and for journalists to be able to work freely in decent working conditions and without any interference in their professional responsibilities.”
The IFJ says that the AJT announcement also puts the spotlight on efforts to bring about government action to end a hunger strike organised by human rights groups against official violations of fundamental rights. Among the hunger strikers is Lotfi Haji, the President of a new Syndicate of Journalists, which has been stopped from organising its Congress in the run-up to the World Summit.
“This Summit should take place in an atmosphere of respect for the rights of everyone, particularly colleagues in Tunisia,” said White. “The government should act quickly to demonstrate to the world that it is ready to grant basic rights of free expression and freedom of association to all citizens.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries