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IPI releases report on covering corruption

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 7 July 2010: A day after a Tunisian appeals court upheld a four-year prison sentence for a journalist who covered violent protests against unemployment and corruption in the southern mining region of Gafsa, the International Press Institute (IPI) released a report outlining the pressure faced by journalists who cover corruption in Tunisia.

The report follows IPI's participation in a joint press freedom mission to Tunisia at the end of April, along with other representatives of the 'Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG)', which brings together over twenty organisations from the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network.

Mission members met with a broad variety of independent journalists and human rights lawyers and activists, as well as with the British, American and EU ambassadors to Tunisia.

The report details various forms of pressure directed at journalists who cover corruption in the North African country, ranging from arrest and imprisonment on apparently fabricated charges, kidnap and assault, and threats, to the monitoring of all communications, harassment by plainclothes security services, and the denial of Internet service.

The environment for all critical journalists, including those reporting on corruption, in Tunisia is oppressive and dangerous," said IPI Director David Dadge. "Behind the façade of Tunisia's economic development and warm ties with the West is an uncompromising stance on critical journalism. The Tunisian public has a right to know about corruption, but journalists who try to report on it in Tunisia face imprisonment, assault and harassment."

The conviction of Fahem Boukaddous, a reporter for the satellite TV channel Al Hiwar Ettounsi, was upheld in absentia, because Boukaddous was in hospital with respiratory problems.

He had been charged with "broadcasting information likely to disrupt the peace" and "belonging to a criminal association with the intent of harming people and property."

IPI and other TMG members believe the charges were brought because the government was displeased with his reporting activities.

Click below to read a full copy of the "Covering Corruption in Tunisia" report:
Tunisia_Corruption_Report.pdf (37 KB)

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