The IFJ today accused Tunisia of "flagrant abuse" of human rights when a journalist recently released after an 11-year prison term was sent back to jail. The journalist, Abdallah Zouari, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment. The trial and sentencing took place earlier today and followed from his arrest and internal deportation on August 19th.
Zouari, a journalist with Al-Fajr newspaper, had been jailed earlier for expressing his opinions. He was jailed along with the paper's director Hamadi Jebali in the early 1990s. He had been released recently, but police seized him at his home in Tunis on last Monday for deportation to a southern location on the orders of the Minister of Interior in July. However, there are reports that Zouari was not taken south and freed, but to the Harboub jail in Gabes, where he was imprisoned.
"This is a flagrant abuse of human rights," said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, "It is a disgraceful and vindictive act of victimisation by an intolerant regime that has virtually no respect for democracy."
The IFJ has received regular reports of abuse of the rights of journalists in Tunisia and says that the Zouari case indicates that the situation is getting worse. "We demand that this latest jail sentence is overturned," said White.
The IFJ has called on the Association of Tunisian Journalists and human rights groups in the country to take up the case.