Skip to main content

Tunisia press freedom plummets post-coup

Reporters Without Borders notches country down 21 places since 2021 in its annual report
Tunisian journalists take part in a protest for press freedom on 25 March 2022 in Tunis (AFP)

Tunisia has plummeted in Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom rankings, in the wake of the July 2021 coup and increasing crackdowns on journalists in the country.

In its annual report, the organisation said Tunisia had dropped from 73rd to 94th in its rankings, citing last year's power grab by President Kais Saied as one of the factors.

"The political crisis shaking the country, and Saied’s uncertain commitment to press freedom, have major repercussions," said the report.

In late March, The National Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) accused authorities of using state apparatuses to "silence and intimidate" journalists after a correspondent was detained for refusing to reveal his sources.

Tunisia rocked by alleged recording of Saied's ex-aide on his 'grave psychological' state
Read More »

Other journalists have also been detained, including Mosaique FM reporter Khalifa Guesmi, and Nawaat reporters Tarek Laabidi and Seif Koussani, who have all now been released. 

Guesmi told the news website Meshkal that National Guard officials from the National Terrorism Crimes Investigations Unit questioned him for nine hours to reveal his source after writing an article about the security forces dismantling an alleged terrorist group in Kairouan. 

On 25 March, the SNJT held a protest outside their offices in central Tunis and during their demonstration chanted: "We are journalists not terrorists."

Since Saied's decision on 25 July last year to oust the government, freeze parliament and subsequently expand his executive powers, there have been increasing restrictions on press freedoms and violence against journalists. 

On Friday, he took control of the country's electoral commission, saying he would replace most of its members, in a move that will entrench his one-man rule.

His capture of power last summer was revealed in a plot leaked to Middle East Eye two months before it was enacted.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.