ARTICLE 19 calls on the Tunisian authorities to repeal the six-month prison sentence against civil society activist Amina Mansour, who has been targeted for posts on Facebook.
On 24 May 2022, the Court of First Instance in Tunis confirmed the prison sentence for blogger and civil society activist Amina Mansour, who was targeted for satirical comments she posted on Facebook in 2021 criticising President Kais Saied and his close associates.
The judgment against Mansour was based on Article 67 of the Penal Code, which stipulates that anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a period of up to three years. Initially the military judiciary launched the prosecutions a year ago, and Mansour faced harassment, including being sent to a psychiatric unit in the prison.
ARTICLE 19 condemns the continuing judicial rulings to imprison bloggers for publishing opinions and information, or for criticising the political situation and politicians on social media. The organisation also considers the use of the penal code or the communications code in cases related to expression instead of Decree-law No. 115 of 2011 related to freedom of the press, printing and publishing – which represents the text of the law on crimes relating to expression – is a legal tactic designed to inflict corporal punishment on individuals instead of financial penalties, as stipulated by the decree law.
ARTICLE 19 also affirms the fact that issuing severe punishment in cases of expression that target senior state officials is a violation of international standards of freedom of expression, which the United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its General Comment No. 34 of 2011.
We also emphasise that it is the duty of persons who assume political responsibilities, such as the President of the Republic or the government, to expect the highest levels of criticism and be more tolerant of all criticism, including severe ones.
ARTICLE 19 MENA’s regional director Saloua Ghazouani, states: “We are waiting for greater respect from the Tunisian authorities, calling on them to respect the foundations of the democratic transition and adopt policies that protect freedoms and avoid the use of laws that were enacted during the period of tyranny, especially since the decree law on freedom of the press, printing and publishing ratified after the revolution guarantees the prosecution of all illegal forms of expression before the judiciary.”