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Freedom of expression experts question credibility of UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia

(IFEX-TMG) - The following is an IFEX-TMG press release:

Freedom of expression experts question credibility of UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia

Geneva - "Tunisia is not a suitable place to hold a United Nations World Summit" according to the latest report of the Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) released two months before the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), scheduled to take place in Tunis, 16-18 November 2005.

The TMG released today its second report on Tunisia entitled: "Freedom of Expression in Tunisia: The Siege Intensifies" following the latest of a series of fact-finding missions by freedom of expression experts.

The 18-page report is an update of the TMG's first report "Tunisia: Freedom of Expression Under Siege" published in February of this year in preparation for the World Summit.

The report highlights serious deterioration in conditions related to freedom of expression in Tunisia, particularly with respect to attacks on independent organisations, harassment of journalists and dissidents, and the independence of the judiciary. It also calls attention to the imprisonment of the human rights lawyer, Mohamed Abbou.

Steve Buckley, Chair of the TMG, said, "The imprisonment of Mohamed Abbou for voicing his opinion in articles on the Internet has had a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary and appears to be directly linked to Tunisian government efforts to suppress dissent in the run up to the WSIS."

Cumulatively the report concludes that this and many other new developments show that the Tunisian government is seeking to stifle dissent on the eve of the WSIS.


Note to editors:

The Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) is a coalition of 14 organisations set up in 2004 to monitor freedom of expression in Tunisia in the run up to and following the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The 14 organisations are all members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a global network of 64 national, regional and international organizations committed to defending the right to freedom of expression.

The third mission of the TMG was composed of representatives of Article 19, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), International Publishers Association (IPA), Index on Censorship, PEN Norway, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) and World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC).

Other members of TMG are: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Journalistes en Danger (JED), Media Institute of South Africa (MISA), World Association of Newspapers (WAN).

IFEX Tunisia Monitoring Group

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