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Prominent lawyer in Tunisia arrested by masked police for comments made in media

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Tunisia’s Presidential administration is cracking down on dissent with the recent arrest of prominent lawyer Sonia Dahmani and journalists Borhen Bssais and Mourad Zeghidi. Dahmani was arrested after she refused to respond to a summons regarding comments she made on a television program criticizing the government and President Kais Saied for their handling of migration issues. The arrest was caught on camera, sparking outrage among viewers who found her comments degrading to Tunisia’s image.

Zeghidi was arrested for supporting another journalist who was imprisoned for defamation of a public official, as well as for statements made on television shows since February. Bssais’s exact reasons for arrest are unclear, but it is believed to be related to Decree 54, a law outlawing the spread of false news on electronic networks that may harm public security or national defense. The arrests have raised concerns about press freedom in Tunisia, with journalists facing intimidation and harassment for their reporting.

The Tunisian Bar Association has called for a general regional strike in response to the arrests, highlighting the sensitive issue of irregular migration in Tunisia. Journalists are often blocked from covering the tens of thousands of irregular arrivals waiting to migrate to Europe, including Tunisian youth fleeing the country’s economic crisis. In 2023, over 17,000 Tunisian nationals arrived in Italy without documents, further highlighting the urgency of addressing migration issues in Tunisia.

The arrests have generated international attention, with journalists worldwide raising concerns about the crackdown on press freedom in Tunisia. The Tunisian government’s actions have been criticized for stifling dissent and targeting those who speak out against government policies. The arrests of Dahmani and the journalists have sparked outrage among human rights organizations, who are calling for their immediate release and an end to the crackdown on freedom of expression in Tunisia.

Tunisia’s image on the international stage has been tarnished by the arrests, with many questioning the government’s commitment to democracy and human rights. The arrests have also raised concerns about the rule of law in Tunisia, with critics accusing the government of using arbitrary detention and intimidation tactics to silence dissent. The international community has called for the Tunisian government to respect freedom of expression and human rights, and to release those who have been unjustly detained.

The arrests of Dahmani and the journalists have galvanized support for press freedom in Tunisia, with many calling for solidarity with those who have been targeted for their reporting. The Tunisian Bar Association’s decision to call for a regional strike demonstrates the legal community’s commitment to defending freedom of expression and the rights of journalists in Tunisia. The arrests have underscored the importance of protecting press freedom as a cornerstone of democracy and ensuring that journalists can report on critical issues without fear of reprisal.

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