First Published: 2013-03-20

 

Human Rights Watch: Tunisia’s defamation law threatens free speech

 

New York-based press watchdog calls on Tunisia to ‘urgently’ repeal its criminal defamation law, which can lead to two years in jail.

 

Middle East Online

Ben Ali repressive laws in service of Ennahda

TUNIS - Human Rights Watch on Wednesday called on Tunisia to "urgently" repeal its criminal defamation law, which can lead to two years in jail and which it said has a "chilling effect" on freedom of speech.

"Tunisian authorities should urgently amend the country’s law on defamation to make it conform to international norms on freedom of expression," the New York-based press watchdog said.

"These standards hold that defamation should be considered a civil matter, not a crime punishable with imprisonment," it added.

"Criminal defamation laws have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and work against the public interest by deterring people from speaking out about corruption or other misconduct by public officials," said Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa region.

The press watchdog highlighted the case of Olfa Riahi, a blogger who posted information about the alleged squandering of public funds by former foreign minister Rafik Abdessalem, before he stepped down earlier this month.

It also cited the defamation charges brought against Raja Ben Slama, a university professor, for accusing an Islamist MP overseeing the drafting of the new constitution of attempting to limit freedom of expression.

They face up to two years in jail if convicted of mistakenly accusing an official of wrongdoing.

Tunisia's secular opposition has regularly accused the ruling Islamist party Ennahda of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and Islamise society, relying in particular on repressive laws dating back to the regime of deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

 

Munich shooting had 'obvious link' to Breivik, not ISIS

Libya ‘NATO revolutionaries’ urge fight against French troops

Turkey extends police powers, shutters over 1,000 private schools

Coalition warplanes strike Qaeda positions in southern Yemen

Palestinian village could soon cease to exist

At least 61 people dead as ISIS claims twin blasts in Kabul

Iraq PM seeks to speed up death penalty implementation

EgyptAir flight broke up in midair after fire, evidence suggests

Germany probes motives of 'lone' Munich mass killer

Russian warplanes targeted US, British outpost in Syria

Syrians harness Pokemon frenzy to depict their plight

Bodies of 14 'executed' people found in Libya's Benghazi

UN to help Turkey bolster tourism sector

France to supply weapons to Iraqi army

Turkey tensions fester in Germany

Israel official on first visit to Chad in 40 years

EU condemns 'unacceptable' Turkey purges

Iran stops 'terrorist infiltration' from Turkey

Moscow restarts air travel to Turkey

Assad says Erdogan is 'implementing his own extremist agenda'

Egypt's Sisi says 'serious efforts' made in Palestine peace process

43 civilians dead as regime bombards rebel-held areas in Syria

UN pleads for weekly 48-hour truce in Syria's Aleppo

Kuwait upholds death for Iran spy cell 'mastermind'

Iran arrests 40 over 'terrorist' plots

US-backed forces give IS '48 hours' to leave Syria's Manbij

Syria activists urge protests over deadly coalition raids

Kuwait issues ultimatum to Yemen negotiators

Turkey coup plotters go on trial in Greece

Mali renews state of emergency after deadly attack

Turkish President declares 3-month state of emergency

Libya unity govt blasts French military presence

Erdogan critics fear what may come next

ISIS bomb kills 4 in Yemen's Aden

Outrage after Syrian rebel group beheads child

Israel parliament passes law allowing expulsion of Palestinian MPs

Europol warns 'Lone wolf' terror attacks hard to track

Turkey blocks WikiLeaks email dump on ruling party

Three French soldiers killed in Libya

Turkey's battle with PKK continues through coup drama

Saudi carries out 99 executions this year

Turkey bans academics from work trips abroad

Beijing policies pushing Chinese Muslims to join IS

Canada pledges $158 million in humanitarian aid to Iraq

French PM: There will be other attacks