New York, September 8, 2009—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a Tunisian court’s decision to recognize a pro-government board of the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (NSTJ). Police today physically evicted members of the previous independent board from the syndicate’s offices, according to local journalists.
A court in Tunis
today ordered the transfer of the syndicate’s offices to the new board, which was
elected in mid-August, after months of a government-sponsored smear campaign against
the organization that ousted its president, Neji Bghouri, and four other
independent members of its board. Earlier today, the police prevented
journalists from accessing the offices on
Police evicted independent board member Nejiba Hamrouni, three syndicate staffers, and Al-Jazeera correspondent and human rights activist Lotfi Hajji, who were at the offices when police arrived.
“This is just the latest episode in the shameful campaign against
critical voices in Tunisia,”
said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator
Following a critical NSTJ report in May on the state of the media, pro-government members of the syndicate resigned and circulated a withdrawal of confidence petition against the elected board. On August 15, pro-government journalists elected a new board and later filed a lawsuit seeking the takeover of the offices of the syndicate.
“There are no limits to the arrogant violation of Tunisian laws, even when the court decision is politically motivated and handed down by a jurisdiction that lacked independence,” Bghouri said.