The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its
grave concern over the well-being of Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukaddous and
urged his immediate release. Boukaddous, whose health has sharply deteriorated
in prison, is serving a four year jail term following his conviction in March
for "forming a criminal association liable to attack persons".
"We are very concerned about Boukaddous who needs urgent medical
treatment unavailable to him in prison," said Aidan White, IFJ General
Secretary. "Boukaddous has already been denied his freedom as punishment for
his independent journalism. Without immediate action his long term health is
According to family sources, Boukaddous, correspondent for the satellite
channel ‘Tunisian Dialogue' has difficulties breathing and speaking and his
asthma attacks have increased. The family has also complained of police harassment
who monitor their movements and keep an intimidating watch near the family home
and commercial premises.
The journalist was sentenced to four years in January and his conviction
was upheld by a Court of Appeal in July. He was prosecuted following his
reporting of public demonstrations against unemployment and corruption in the
mining town of Gafsa in 2008.
In a show of solidarity, leaders of the syndicat national des
journalistes tunisiens (SNJT), an IFJ affiliate, organised a demonstration
outside the Gafsa prison where Boukaddous is detained on 18 September but the
police stopped the gathering and turned away demonstrators.
The IFJ is also calling on the European Parliament to help secure the
release of Boukaddous. The Parliament held a hearing on the situation of human
rights in Tunisia during its January session in Strasbourg.
"We look to European Union institutions to leverage their pressure to
save the journalist's life," added White. "But they need to act fast as his
life is in danger."
According to the IFJ, the authorities continue to use the courts as a
means of repression against journalists as the case of journalist Mouldi Zouabi
demonstrated this week. The journalist of Radio Kalima is a defendant in a case despite being the victim of an assault by a man who attacked
him in April. Police decided not to charge the aggressor, claiming insufficient
evidence. Instead, they are accusing Zouabi of violent behavior and actual
bodily harm. The case was sent to a higher court on 6 October, exposing the
journalist to up to two years in jail. His lawyers have resigned to protest
multiple breaches of due process.
For more information,
please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than
600.000 journalists in 125 countries