The TAP reporter believes that the arrival of Kamel Ben Younes, accused of being close to the former dictator Ben Ali’s circle, threatened their independence.
“In my twenty-five-year career, I have never seen police disembark in this way and abuse journalists in front of their own workplaces”, The 52-year-old outrageous Mustapha Fradi is the editor-in-chief of multimedia services at Tunis TAP (Tunis Africa Press). On Thursday, April 15, he, like a hundred colleagues, demonstrated in front of the premises of the official news agency to condemn what they believe to be a serious violation of press freedom in Tunisia.
It all started on April 6, when the head of government appointed the new chief executive Kamel Ben Younes, the head of TAP, who was accused of close ties to the circle of former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who was expelled. Came to power in 2011. To protest this decision, some reporters from the agency organized a sit-in in front of the company’s location. But on April 13, a week later, when the new leader was prevented from entering his office, the police intervened and unceremoniously forced them to pass.
The video of this dispute was widely shared on social media, prompting the journalists’ union and other media to publicly express their differences. “What happened, police violence like this appointment, is not a good sign for Tunisian press freedom, and we are worried that it will go backwards.” Amira Mohamed, deputy chairman of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), explained at a support rally on Thursday.
The case illustrates the current concerns about Tunisia’s information independence, which were acquired with the 2011 revolution. The 64-year-old journalist Kamel Ben Younes was indeed accused in the press of “supporting the Ben Ali” regime and maintaining a close relationship with the Islamic Ennada Party. He was a radical in an Islamic student union in the 1980s. He served a few years in prison. “Before it is finally recovered by the Ben Ali regime”, To promote the development of TAP reporter Nedra Boukesra, his appointment was purely for this purpose “partisan” with “Expressed the desire to control Ennahda and the government in the media”.
Within Ennahda, we reject these accusations and explain that the party has “Nothing to do with this appointment”. As for the head of government, Hichem Mechichi, he announced on April 12 that he would not withdraw his decision. The independence of the agency’s editorial department is the responsibility of the agency’s 150 reporters.
For TAP, this is a heavy blow. TAP has been working hard to begin the transition to independent media channels and has met nearly seven different bosses since the revolution.. Established in 1961, it has indeed deviated from the public service mission of the former dictator regime and made it a propaganda tool. The independent agency responsible for information and communications reform (Inric) described the operation extensively in a report released in 2012.
For Rachida Ennaifer, a former communications official at the Office of the President of the Republic and a member of the Independent High Agency for Audiovisual Communications (Haica), these issues indicate the need for in-depth reforms of the Tunisian public sector: These appointments were made unilaterally because they complied with the laws of Ben Ali’s time when the government controlled the public media. Since 2011, we have repeatedly pushed to reform the industry and the way TAP operates, but no government has responded positively. “
“We don’t understand the intentions of the head of government or his timing, because he knows that the former CEO who served for ten months did not commit any serious negligence.” Add to Political science professor Larbi Chouikha (Larbi Chouikha) was appointed to the position “Not considering Tunisia’s New Deal: freedom of the press.”
At present, the climate does not seem to be calming down. The TAP reporter threatened that if the head of government did not review the appointment of Kamel Ben Younes at the time, a general strike would take place on April 22. Several associations defending freedom of the press, including the Office of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in Tunisia, condemned the police intrusion into the institution’s premises.