SEPTEMBER 25, 2003
Posted: October 3, 2003
Néziha Rejiba, Kalima
Rejiba, a journalist and human rights activist also known as Om Zeid,
was summoned by the Tunisian Customs Bureau for questioning following
her return from Europe.
According to the Tunisian press freedom group Observatoire de la Liberté
de la Presse, de L'Edition et de la Création (OLPEC), Rejiba, who
is the Arabic editor of Kalima, a banned online French- and Arabic-language
journal, had agreed to bring 170 euros (US$197) back into Tunisia for
a friend of an acquaintance. The customs agents alleged that she had violated
currency exchange laws by bringing the money into the country and told
her that she could face up to five years in prison if charged and convicted.
An OLPEC spokesperson said that the currency exchange laws are designed
to punish people who funnel large amounts of undeclared foreign currency
into Tunisia, not small amounts. The spokesperson maintained that Rejiba
was summoned because of her activism and writing in Kalima, which
often criticizes the Tunisian government. Kalima is blocked in
Tunisia but can be accessed outside the country.
The spokesperson also revealed that Rejiba's home is under constant surveillance.
Her phones lines are monitored, and she can't receive long distance calls.
CPJ and other human rights groups regularly have difficulty contacting
independent journalists and human rights activists in Tunisia