Press freedom reports

Reporters Without Borders (RWB) considers Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as a “predator” of free media, while the press freedom situation is qualified as a “very serious situation,” the worst label in RWB classification. According to the annual RWB report “independent and pro-opposition journalists are prevented from working through government surveillance and harassment and their freedom of movement shrinks daily.”


The IPI annual report states that “Tunisia is seeking to bolster its international image by espousing a commitment to reforms, but on the ground, little change has been seen. President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has said that his government upholds guarantees of press freedom and freedom of expression, but this year saw an escalation of state imposed censorship intended to stifle the press and silence opposition voices.


The government uses state-controlled media as a propaganda tool to consolidate power. A fact-finding mission undertaken in 2007 by the Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of 16 members of the International Federation of Expression Exchange (IFEX) reported, “While in some small-circulation newspapers there is now an unprecedented amount of balanced reporting on local issues, the larger circulation official press continues to lack balance.” The mission noted that journalists they met with “…asserted that self-censorship due to government intimidation and pressure is still rampant.”


Domestic radio and television stations are entirely state-controlled, as are several of the largest daily newspapers. The private press faces routine judicial and police harassment and is limited by vague and restrictive licensing procedures. Foreign publications are subjected to prior censorship and Ministry of Information censors frequently ban editions that cover taboo topics such as religion, corruption or human rights or that contain analysis of President Ben Ali or Tunisian politics.”