In Tunisia, TrialWatch is monitoring the use of vague laws to criminalize online speech. Journalists and others who criticize public officials and institutions or express views about sensitive issues such as religion and the prevalence of police brutality routinely face criminal charges.
Two TrialWatch reports on cases against Tunisian bloggers concluded that a rising number of prosecutions for speech-related offences demonstrate the need for establishment of the long-awaited Constitutional Court, which could bring legislation into line with the protections for freedom of expression in the 2014 Constitution, as well as international and regional standards. Such a court could also provide remedies for those whose constitutional rights have been violated.
In July 2020, Tunisian blogger Emna Chargui was convicted of “inciting hatred between religions through hostile means or violence” and “infringing an authorized religion” for re-posting a short satirical poem on Facebook entitled “Sura Corona.” The poem, written and formatted like a Quranic verse, discussed the importance of science guiding the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chargui was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 2,000 Dinars, following proceedings marred by fair trial violations, including the Prosecution’s failure to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The Fairness Report on the case gave the trial a grade of ‘D,’ concluding that Chargui’s conviction violated her right to freedom of expression.
An anti-impunity activist and blogger was prosecuted and convicted of “offending security officials” for reposting and commenting on a video depicting police brutality. Myriam Bribri’s prosecution was initiated following a complaint filed by the Secretary-General of the Regional Section of the Security Forces Union in Sfax, which stated that the post caused offence to the Secretary General “in particular.” Bribri was given a 4-month prison sentence and fined 500 Dinars following a trial that violated her right to freedom of expression.
Myriam Bribri is facing charges under Article 86 of the Telecommunications Code for “offend[ing] security officials.” The charges stem from expletive-laced comments that she posted on social media in response to a video circulating of a police officer beating someone.See the Fairness Report
In July 2020, the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch initiative monitored the criminal trial of Emna Chargui in Tunisia. The prosecution and conviction of Ms. Chargui on incitement charges for sharing a satirical poem online constituted a violation of her right to freedom of expression.See the Fairness Report