The undersigned Tunisian Organisations take the opportunity of the first Prepcom meeting which is to take place in Hammamet on June 24 and 25th 2004 - in view of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)&nbs;- to state the following:
Whereas more than sixty pro-authorities Tunisian associations have been accepted to take part in the preparatory proceedings of the WSIS, the independent NGOs which have paid a very high price for their autonomy, such as the Tunisian Association of Democrat Women (ATFD), the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDH) and the Tunisian section of Amnesty International (AI) have applied to get their accreditation in due time and are still waiting for the confirmiation of their registration. They hope that the plenary of the Prepcom in Hammamet will grant its approval without any further hesitation.
We also wish to inform the public opinion that the other undersigned associations have been excluded from participating in the same forum because their country's authorities deny them legal recognition. We therefore appeal to the International NGOs, civil society, private sector and governments represented in the Prepcom to monitor that our respective organisations may exercise their right to fully participate in this forum.
Furthermore, we would like to draw the participants' attention on the undersigned organisations'main cause of concern, i.e. the many attacks on freedom of communication and expression. Serious threats hang over these liberties in the name of the fight against 'terrorism' and of the 'security' of States.
In Tunisia, a legal framework, the most comprehensive in the region, seriously undermines the exercise of freedom of communication and expression: the so-called 'anti-terrorist' law enacted on December the 10th, 2003, but also a number of legal provisions in the Code of Communications, the Code of the Postal Services, the Code of the Press, the electoral Code'. Surfing on the Internet is under heavy control. Many Tunisian and foreign websites relating to public liberties are locked (such as those of the International Federation for Human Rights 'FIDH-, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty Internaitonal, World Organization Against Torture'), the right to privacy and the confidentiality of personal correspondance are regularly violated.
Two journalists, Hamadi JBALI and Abdallah ZOUARI remain in prison and young internauts have been handed out very heavy sentences (the so-called 'Zarzis case' where eight out of nine web-users have been sentenced to more than 19 years of imprisonment each).
We would like to express our fear to see the 'Information Society' turned into a 'Surveillance society', seriously threatening liberties and Human Rights.
The issue of information society cannot be reduced to the sole technical, securitarian and even economic imperatives, and it is essential to see to it that the freedoms of communication and expression as well as the right to privacy are not sacrificed in their name.
It is fundamental that Tunisia, the host-country of the Summit, abides by all its international commitments relating to the respect for Human Rights.
- Amicale Nationale des Anciens Résistants ANAR
- Association de Lutte contre la Torture en Tunisie ALTT
- Association des Ecrivains Libres AEL
- Association Internationale pour le Soutien des Prisonniers Politiques AISPP
- Conseil National pour les Libertés en Tunisie CNLT
- Ligue Tunisienne pour la défense des Droits de l'Homme LTDH
- Observatoire pour la Liberté de Presse, d'Edition et de Création OLPEC
- Rassemblement pour une Alternative de Développement RAID