IFJ Calls for Probe Into “Brutal and Cowardly Attack” on Tunisian Journalist

The IFJ called today on the Tunisian authorities for an immediate and thorough investigation into a “brutal and cowardly attack” on Tunisian journalist and human rights activist Sihem Ben Sedrine.

On 05 January, Sihem Ben Sedrine was assaulted outside the Conseil National pour les Libertés en Tunisie (CNLT) in Tunis. She was knocked over by a young man and violently beat up while he hurled abuse at her. Ben Sedrine is internationally known for her commitment to and defence of a free press and human rights. She is a founding member and former spokeswoman of the CNLT.

“This is an unspeakable and cowardly act of brutality that should be fully investigated,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “When this sort of targeted attack takes place against one of the most prestigious journalists in the country, it is impossible not to see it as a violent blow against free speech in Tunisia.”

Ben Sedrine believes that this was a premeditated act of intimidation carried out by the security forces because of her professional activities. She has filed a complaint on the attack with the police and with lawyers.

“The Tunisian authorities must fully investigate this intolerable incident,” said White. “Tunisia’s poor record in defence of press freedom and the rights of journalists has already cast a shadow over media and this event adds to legitimates concerns about whether Tunis is a suitable choice for the World Summit of Information Society next year.”

The IFJ and other press freedom groups have expressed fears that the holding of the summit in Tunisia, where journalism is subject to official constraints, will undermine the commitment to free expression agreed at the conclusion of the first half of the summit in Geneva last month.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries