Tunisia media workers strike to protect independence

After repeated calls for the protection of fundamental rights, the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) has called for an unprecedented strike of media professionals on 17 October

One year on from Tunisia’s election of a National Constituent Assembly and the formation of an interim government, media workers in the country still face significant challenges.

As calls for the protection of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and media freedoms have proved futile, the National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) has initiated the country’s first-ever general strike of media professionals.

The strike also comes as a response to the government’s lacking implementation of two decrees concerning freedom of the press and the independence of broadcast media. It calls for the end of government appointments of key media leaders and impunity in cases of violence against journalists.

Regaining public trust

According to SNJT, the strike seeks to put pressure on the government and to raise awareness among citizens of what is ultimately at stake: a strong, independent and free media in Tunisia.

Reaching out to the public is of critical importance, says Virginie Jouan, IMS Programme Manager for Tunisia:

“After decades of serving as propaganda tools, media professionals need to regain public trust by resolutely demonstrating high journalistic standards and integrity. Many in the information sector are committed to that.”

Failure to implement reforms

During a recent study tour in Denmark organised by IMS and the Danish Union of Journalists, SNJT stressed the continuing failure of the interim government to implement most pressing reforms in the media sector, including the protection of freedom of expression and editorial integrity, and their failure to put an end to a prevailing opacity and impunity.

The SNJT delegation described what it considered as governmental obstruction to the media reform process and duplicity in negotiations:

“The revolution was about freedom, dignity and jobs. For months, Tunisians have been deceived”, said SNJT.

For more information on the strike and SNJT, visit http://www.snjt.org/ (Arabic)