Fears for media freedoms in Tunisia after 42 attacks on journalists at start of 2022

Fears for media freedoms in Tunisia after 42 attacks on journalists at start of 2022
2 min read
16 March, 2022
Tunisia has become increasingly authoritarian since President Kais Saied's 'coup' last year'
Journalists in the Tunisian capital protest against repression of media workers in October 2021 [Getty]

Forty-two journalists have been attacked in Tunisia since the start of 2022, as fears for media workers in the increasingly autocratic state increase.

January saw 30 attacks on journalists with 12 recorded violence incidents in February.

The journalists targeted in the attacks were working on political, social, and anti-corruption stories, coinciding with increasing moves to authoritarianism in the North African country.  Most of the media workers injured in January were covering protests.

The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) reported that the journalists were victims of various forms of violence, including verbal and physical assaults, provocations, and threats.

Public offials were reportedly behind two-thirds of the incidents in February, while police officers were responsible for some of the reported assaults.

February’s attacks were concentrated mostly in Tunis, while others were recorded in the towns of Nabeul, Kasserine, Siliana and El-Kef.

The SNJT urged the government to end authoritarian practices against journalists, and for media institutions to publicly condemn attacks on journalists and report any incidents to the syndicate.

Tunisia was the catalyst for the Arab Spring with democracy introduced in 2011.

The country was seen as the freest in the Arab world, until President Kais Saied launched a power grab in July 2021, suspending parliament and scacking the prime minister.

Tunisia has since been criticised for the stifling of press freedom by Human Rights Watch and others.

Authorities in October shut down Zitouna TV, which was said to be close to the Islamist-inspired Ennahda opposition party.

In January this year, Tunisia state television barred representatives of political parties from appearing on talk shows.