31 January 2011
IFJ Welcomes Tunisian Union Strategy for Jobs and Press Freedom
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed calls from Tunisian journalists’ union to put free speech and rights of journalists at the heart of a new strategy for democracy in the country.
Members of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists meeting last week in the wake of dramatic political changes inside the country adopted a strategic plan to tackle the crisis of jobs and media restructuring following the collapse of the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
An emergency meeting of the union in Tunis, attended by over four hundreds journalists on 26 January 2010, announced plans to set up a national media observatory to monitor media compliance with “the basics and ethics of the profession” and also plans to solve the unemployment crisis that has been caused by the closure of some newspapers linked to the Ben Ali government.
Additionally, union leaders who are in the process of re-establishing recognition of the union with the authorities have said that the interim government must consult with the union before introducing changes to Tunisian media.
“The union of journalists of Tunisia is providing leadership that the media community desperately needs,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “The union has a strategy for jobs, for defence of independent journalism and for establishing a new dialogue with the state.”
After years in which journalists have found themselves targets of an antagonistic government, the Tunisian union wants to engage in a dialogue, but it has emphasised this will not be possible without respect for the professional independence of journalists.
“The coming days will be crucial,” said White. “We shall see if the new government is ready to reach out to nourish and encourage democracy and also if journalists can meet the challenge of unity and solidarity. The IFJ will support them every step of the way.”
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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries