IFJ Says Brutal Attack on Journalist in Tunisia Casts Shadow over United Nations Summit

The International Federation of Journalists today welcomed the action by Tunisian journalists to intervene with the Government over a brutal attack on a French journalist for the French newspaper Liberation. Journalists in Tunisia and worldwide are demanding that the Tunisian government find those responsible and bring them to justice.

Christophe Boltanski was attacked by several men in a street of Tunis, where he was reporting on the repression of human rights activists. He had just written a story headlined Demonstrators Beaten by Police in Tunis. He was badly hurt and stabbed in the back by four unidentified assailants near his hotel.

“This appalling attack, in which we understand there was no attempt by local police to help, has all the hallmarks of a deliberate act of intimidation against an independent journalist,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary.

“Coming on the eve of the opening of the World Summit on the Information Society it is a challenge to the Tunisian regime and their commitment to the principles of pluralism and free expression.”

The IFJ is backing the Association of Tunisian Journalists which has protested over the attack. A delegation of the AJT met with the minister of the interior over the weekend and demanded urgent action to find those responsible. “We fully support the journalists of Tunisia, who are angry and outraged by this attack,” said White.

The IFJ says that public revulsion over the incident, including that publicly expressed by its affiliate in France, the Syndicat nationale des journalists, will cast a shadow over the entire summit, unless the government acts quickly to find those responsible.

The IFJ says Tunisia must act to ensure that all journalists are allowed to report freely and that all obstacles to free expression are lifted “not just for the time of the Summit itself, but permanently.”

There is mounting concern among press freedom groups and the IFJ over a continuing hunger strike by human rights activists, including the President of the Syndicat of Journalists, who are protesting about violations of human rights. The government has denounced the action without responding to the widespread concern within journalism and the international community about the lack of press freedom in the country.

See also press release of Syndicat National des Journalistes