Source: Amnesty International –
The Tunisian authorities must immediately stop exploiting largely outdated, overly broad and repressive laws to prosecute individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression online, said Amnesty International in a detailed briefing and campaign launched today.
Amnesty International found that at least 40 bloggers, administrators of widely followed Facebook pages, political activists and human rights defenders have face criminal prosecution between 2018 and 2020 simply for publishing online posts critical of local authorities, the police or other state officials.
“It is extremely disturbing to see bloggers and activists being targeted with criminal prosecutions under laws that date back to the time of repression in Tunisia ten years after the revolution, for simply posting their views on Facebook. Instead of trying to muzzle criticism, the Tunisian authorities should uphold the right of each and every person to express themselves freely and safely without fear of reprisals,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“These prosecutions threaten the human rights progress made so far in Tunisia where the right to freedom of expression is a hard-won value of the revolution. We call upon the legislative authorities to prioritize reforming all largely outdated and overly broad laws that allow repression to prevent further backsliding and to fully comply with Tunisia’s obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression.”
While most of these cases did not lead to a prison sentence, the summons for interrogation, the indictments and the trials themselves on charges that carry prison sentences amount to harassment and intimidation of people who express critical opinions about a public official and will have a chilling effect.
It is extremely disturbing to see bloggers and activists being targeted with criminal prosecutions under laws that date back to the time of repression in Tunisia ten years after the revolution, for simply posting their views on Facebook.