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IPA awards 2009 Freedom to Publish Prize to OLPEC founders

Three of Tunisia's most recognised - and victimised - free expression defenders have been awarded this year's International Publishers Association (IPA) Freedom to Publish Prize.

Sihem Bensedrine, Neziha Rejiba and Mohammed Talbi, founders of the Observatory for the Freedom of the Press, Publishing and Creation (OLPEC), IFEX's member in Tunisia, were voted joint recipients of the 2009 prize for "their exemplary courage in upholding freedom to publish."

OLPEC's work as a press and publishing watchdog "has often brought its three founders... into conflict with the Tunisian authorities and endangered their safety," said IPA president Herman P. Spruijt.

"As a consequence, OLPEC has no legal status in Tunisia and its members must work under extremely difficult conditions," he added.

Bensedrine, Rejiba and Talbi have all been the victims of physical attacks, police surveillance and defamation campaigns because of their work. Just last month, Bensedrine was denied entry into Algeria to help monitor local media coverage of the presidential election. No explanation was provided.

This year's award will be formally presented by IPA's President in Oslo, Norway, on 4 June 2009 during the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression.

IPA's statement

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