Tunisia: Prior ban on broadcasting is an attack on media freedom

Tunisia: Prior ban on broadcasting is an attack on media freedom - Media

The Four Truths programme has been censored by Tunisia’s judiciary multiple times. Photo: Facebook

ARTICLE 19 condemns the Tunisian judiciary’s decision to censor a television programme, which was issued on Thursday, 26 January 2023. The ruling violates international standards regarding freedom of expression and media freedom, as well as Tunisia’s Constitution. 

The ruling stipulated that a journalistic investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a young man in late 2021, which was scheduled to be included in a broadcast of ‘The Four Truths’ programme on Al-Hiwar Ettounsi channel on Sunday, 29 January 2023, had to be excluded.  This is not the first time that prior censorship of this programme has been exercised. Since its initial launch on 14 September 2018, this is the eighth time that the broadcast of ‘The Four Truths’ has been banned.  

The programmes’s journalists stated that every time they interviewed a victim’s family or conducted research into their surroundings as part of their journalistic work, they were obstructed by the security and judicial authorities, who alleged they had interfered in judicial affairs and revealed secret information that threatened the ongoing investigations carried out by authorities. Journalists also confirmed to ARTICLE 19 that they had strived to provide as accurate account of the cases they are investigating as possible, without revealing any information that would affect the official conduct of the investigation, and in full respect of the law. 

ARTICLE 19 fears that these practices may be tactics to exercise prior censorship of the media. 

ARTICLE 19 opposes the continuous prior censorship of ‘The Four Truths’ programme investigations, in violation of freedom of the press, media, and freedom of expression in general. We stress the contradiction of such decisions with international standards, as well as with the Tunisian Constitution 2022, which stipulates in Article 37 that prior censorship of freedoms shall not be exercised. 

ARTICLE 19 has issued a reference book on the relationship between the Media and the Judiciary, in accordance with the most important guiding principles and best practices of international and national dimensions that regulate this relationship. It aims to strike a balance between the media logic that seeks to unveil abuses that occur in society and thus strengthens the role of justice in paying attention to these abuses and deterring them, and the judicial logic that must protect press and media freedom, as well as other rights and freedoms.


Read ARTICLE 19’s reference book (in Arabic)