Freedom of the Press

Tunisia

Tunisia

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

78

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

28

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

23

Despite press code reforms in 2001, there was increased suppression of the media during the year. The press code and vaguely worded provisions prohibiting subversion and defamation stipulate high fines and long prison sentences for violators and are frequently used to intimidate the press. Although press freedom is provided for in the constitution, the government regularly interferes with this right. There are several independent newspapers and magazines; however, the government uses mandatory prescreening of publications to control the press and encourage self-censorship. The state maintains a monopoly on radio and television, which provide only official views. However, the public has access to foreign stations through satellite services. Although the Internet is available, official monitoring and censoring of the Internet ranks as one of the highest in the world. In June 2002, the founder of a satirical Internet site that provided a forum for opposition groups and politicians was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for spreading "false information." Intimidation of journalists is widespread, and a number of detention and harassment cases were reported during the year. The government also uses archaic methods to control the press. One journalist who was recently released from prison after serving an 11-year sentence was banished to the south of the country. His refusal to comply led to his re-arrest. Newsprint subsidies and control of advertising revenues are used to encourage self-censorship.