Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns police harassment of journalists covering a ten-day-old wave of anti-austerity protests in Tunisia. The pressure has included the brief detention and interrogation of one reporter and the confiscation of another's phone.
Mathieu Galtier, a French reporter for the Paris-based daily Libération, received an unexpected visit by police officers at his Tunis home yesterday, one day after he went to Tebourba, a city 30 km west of the capital, to cover a new outbreak of protests.
Without showing any supporting document, the police made him accompany them to a police station where they questioned him for nearly an hour before letting him go. They tried above all to get him to provide information about his contacts.
"I was very surprised that they came looking for me at my home and I was shocked by the fact that National Guard representatives asked me, in a very explicit and direct manner, for the names of the persons I had talked to in Tebourba," Galtier told RSF.
Tunisia Review reporter Nadim Bouamoud's telephone was seized by a police officer on 7 January while he was providing live video coverage of one of the protests in the anti-austerity campaign, whose slogan is "Fech nestannew" (What are we waiting for?).
"These media freedom violations by representatives of the security forces are unacceptable in a democratic country such as Tunisia," said Yasmine Kacha, the head of RSF's North Africa bureau. "Journalists must be able to freely cover the protests currently taking place in Tunisia. We call on the authorities not to obstruct their work."
The wave of protests against austerity measures and cost of living increases began just days ahead the 7th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution. More protests erupted in Tebourba on 9 January after a man was killed there in clashes with the police the day before.
RSF invites reporters covering the protests to read its recommendations entitled "For a better dialogue between journalists and police officers."
Tunisia is ranked 97th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.