Reporters Without Borders opened a bureau in Tunis on 12th October. Its staff will have the job of raising media freedom violations with the Tunisian authorities and helping to build and develop stable, professional and independent media in Tunisia.
“The Arab Spring, which Tunisia began, has brought incredible changes throughout the region but much remains to be done to safeguard what has been won in these revolutions,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “Free speech, the first victory of these mass movements, must be consolidated. By opening this bureau, Reporters Without Borders wants to be closer to Tunisians in their efforts to achieve democracy. Media freedom is an essential value that must be defended. Everyone must play their part.
“During the Ben Ali years, we were not welcome in Tunisia. All we could do was denounce the censorship and authoritarianism. Now we intend to help the authorities to overhaul the entire media sector. Reforming the media law, regulating radio and TV stations, supporting pluralism and defending the principle of respect for the most diverse opinions – these will be the bureau’s chief tasks. We are convinced that journalists who are professional, free and aware of the role they should play are the first line of defence against a return to dictatorship.”
For the first time in its history, Reporters Without Borders launched a communication campaign in Tunisia on 1 October with the aim of making the public more aware of the importance of media freedom. Produced by JWT Tunis and with “Free until when?” as its message, the campaign is being carried out by means of inserts in the print media and posters.
Supervised from Reporters Without Borders headquarters in Paris, the Tunis bureau will work in close cooperation with local press freedom organizations including the Monitoring Centre for Media Freedom, Publishing and Creation, the Tunis Centre for Media Freedom, the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights and the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia.
The bureau will reinforce Reporters Without Borders’ international presence, which already includes nine permanent sections and bureaus.