IFJ Condemns "Sham" Trial of Journalist as European Parliament Holds Hearing on Tunisia

The International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the four year jail term handed

down to Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukadous on 13 January by a court for his

reporting on the demonstrations against unemployment and corruption in the

mining town of Gafsa in 2008.

"We condemn the sham trial which makes an

innocent journalist a scapegoat for the government's failings, ‘" said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary." His sentence

fits in with the regime's ongoing repression of media in Tunisia."

Fahem Boukadous,

a reporter for the satellite TV El Hiwar station was accused of "forming a

criminal association liable to attack persons" following his reports on the

protests in Gafsa by some Tunisian unions members to denounce rampant

corruption and rising unemployment. He went in hiding but was put on trial in

absentia along with 37 other people on the same charges and was sentenced to

six years in prison in December 2008. The sentence was upheld by an appeal

court in February 2009.

The Syndicat

National des Journalistes Tunisiens (SNJT), an IFJ affiliate, says that Fahem

turned himself in to the authorities last November and was arrested. His co

-accused were freed earlier in the same month by presidential pardon.

The IFJ calls on

the European Parliament, which held a public hearing on Wednesday in Strasbourg on the human rights situation in Tunisia, to pay

particular attention to press freedom violations by the regime which has

declared war on journalists who refuse to give in to political interference. Two

other journalists, Ben Brik and Zouhaïer Makhlouf were jailed last year for

their outspoken criticism of President Ben Ali's rule.

"The double

standards of the authorities in this case lay bare the Government's intention

to suppress independent reporting," added White. "Even the presidential pardon was deliberately selective so as not to benefit

a journalist who was not even involved in the protests. Europe

must take a stand against these relentless attacks on media."

For more information contact the IFJ at

  +32 2 235 2207   

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists

in 125 countries worldwide