Concerns grow for journalists following a third detention

The NAFCC one again expresses its deep concerns over the growing pressure on foreign journalists working in Tunis and condemns the arrest of two journalists.

The latest incident happened on Monday, 15th January, when Nacer Talel, videographer for Anadolu Agency and his photographer colleague Enes Canli, were covering the Football Club Esperance’s 99th anniversary in the Bab Souika district of Tunis. Both journalists are fully accredited with the Tunisian authorities and Nacer Talel also holds a filming license issued by the communication services of the government presidency press office.

They were stopped at 7.15pm  in Bab Souika by plain clothes police officers who refused to reveal their identities.  Both Mr. Talel and Mr. Canli told the officers that they were fully accredited journalists. The police chastised Enes Canli for not having the necessary authorization to take photographs before deciding to escort both journalists to Bab Soukia police station. Despite the conversation at the police station being civil in nature, the police did ask Mr. Canli to see his photographs and to delete them.  Before being allowed to leave the police station at 19:55hrs Enes Canli had to sign the police intervention log.

This incident follows the detention on Sunday 14th January of RFI (Radio France Internationale) correspondent Michel Picard (a French National) by the National guard whilst he was covering a visit by the President of Tunisia to the district of Ettadhamen in north-west Tunis.  Mr. Picard was taken to the local National Guard station and before he was allowed to leave he was asked to sign a document in Arabic and was not given an official translation in French.

Four days prior to this, independent journalist Mathieu Galtier was summoned to the Bardo National Guard office in Tunis, where he was asked to reveal the identities of his sources, this request is contrary to the international standards governing freedom of the press.

The NAFCC notes the assurances provided by the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, 16th January, that the Tunisian government remains committed to respect the freedom of the press in Tunisia and the working conditions of foreign correspondents.  The NAFCC, however, expects to see concrete actions to ensure that the procedures and respect is observed by police and security forces. Every journalist must be able to work freely, especially if he/she holds a press card issued by the government. The verifications must be carried out at the place of enquiry without resorting to arrest and detaining any journalist at a police station nor should they use coercive practice of arrests.

The NAFCC again calls upon the Tunisian security forces to respect the procedures in accordance with commitments to press freedom as laid out by the Tunisian authorities