See also:
» 13.05.2009 - Tunisian president urged to stop bullying the media
» 24.09.2008 - Tunisia accused of violating journalists rights
» 06.12.2007 - Tunisia journalists cry foul
» 06.06.2007 - Tunisia's only independent media under fire
» 11.04.2007 - Tunisia blocks video-sharing web
» 13.03.2007 - Tunisia journalist sentenced for "belonging to opposition"
» 16.11.2005 - UN finally signals discontent with Tunisia
» 09.09.2005 - Deterioration of rights situation in Tunisia

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Labour | Media

Tunisian reporter charged for revealing labour conflict

afrol News, 13 November - Fahem Boukadous, a reporter for the independent Tunisian television station 'Al-Hiwar Attounsi' is wanted by the authorities on charges of "belonging to a criminal association" for his coverage of protests earlier this year in the Gafsa mining region and because he put foreign news media in contact with labour leaders in the region.

Mr Boukadous went into hiding on 5 July this year, after Tunisian authorities had charged him of "belonging to a criminal association" and "spreading reports liable to disrupt public order." He was the first television reporter to cover the demonstrations in Gafsa, a phosphate mining region 350 kilometres south of Tunis with higher than average unemployment. He filmed the marches, interviewed the population and covered the dozens of arbitrary arrests of participants, many of who are still in pre-trial detention.

The footage shot by Boukadous was used by many leading pan-Arab news media and was posted on video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Dailymotion, both of which are censored in Tunisia. He faces up to 10 years in prison for leaking the news out of the country.

There have been major protests and demonstrations by workers in the Gafsa region since 5 January. The authorities have arrested dozens of demonstrators and labour leaders on the streets and in their homes. The police still control access to the region and restrict visits by the media.

Mr Boukadous still is in hiding, unable to continue his work for 'Al-Hiwar Attounsi'. The Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today called on Tunisian authorities to withdraw the charges against Mr Boukadous and allowing him to start working as a journalist again.

Radhia Nasraoui, a lawyer who heads the Association for Combating Torture in Tunisia (ALTT), told an RSF delegation in Tunis that "the indictment accuses Boukadous of establishing contacts with the demonstrators for his reporting. Whenever his name is mentioned, it is in connection with his work as a journalist."

RSF in a statement today said that Tunisian authorities "cannot keep reiterating their commitment to press freedom at every major national event if a journalist is forced to go into hiding. The scant media coverage of such an important development as the unrest in Gafsa shows how little leeway the Tunisia media enjoy when covering national political news."

Mr Boukadous, 38, became an 'Al-Hiwar Attounsi' correspondent in 2006. Created in 2002, 'Al-Hiwar Attounsi' stands out from the rest of the Tunisian media, which are heavily censored. Based in Italy, the broadcaster's mission is "to show another side of the story." With its limited resources, it broadcasts just one hour a day to Tunisia via Hotbird satellite, with the help of an Italian television station. Its frequency and its broadcast times are published each week in Tunisia's opposition press.

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