More than 30 journalists trying to cover yesterday’s bus bombing in Tunis were attacked physically or verbally by the security forces. Reporters Without Borders condemns this aggressiveness and reminds the authorities that reporters must be allowed to work freely during such tragic events.
Many of the journalists who went to cover the bombing on Mohamed V Avenue, a major thoroughfare near the interior ministry, were beaten and their equipment was badly damaged. Al Hiwar TV cameraman Ahmed Souid was among those who were manhandled and attacked verbally. Plainclothes police tried to arrest him and smashed his camera. Ramzi Hfaiedh, a reporter for the daily Assahafa was badly beaten on the shoulder and had to be rushed to hospital for treatment. Amira Hamdi, a woman reporter for the national TV station Watania, sustained a foot injury and was insulted by police officers. “We were the target of violent and repeated attacks by plainclothes police although we respected the security directives applying to the coverage of events such as this one,” said Khawla Chabbeh, one the reporters who went to the scene and who is in charge of monitoring violations for the Tunisian Press Freedom Centre (CTLP). “The number of attacks on journalists covering street demonstrations and incidents keeps on rising,” Reporters Without Borders editor in chief Virginie Dangles said. “The only way to end impunity for violence against media personnel is for courts to impose exemplary sentences on those responsible. Interior ministry apologies will not suffice.” After police attacks against journalists in February, Reporters Without Borders and the CTLP jointly issued a list of recommendations for journalists and police designed to improve relations. They were drafted by journalists and police officers. Tunisia is ranked 126th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.