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Cause for concern: how free is free?

In cyberspace

IFEX Action Alert Network, the International Freedom of eXpression Clearing House has come out with a statement quoting Article 19 to point to attacks on journalists and others at the WSIS by the authorities. This statement is being distributed on behalf of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Civil Society's Media Caucus.

IFEX Action Alert Network, the International Freedom of eXpression Clearing House has come out with a statement quoting Article 19 to point to attacks on journalists and others at the WSIS by the authorities. This statement is being distributed on behalf of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Civil Society's Media Caucus.

The Civil Society's Media Caucus at WSIS has voiced its indignation over "a series of incidents" which, it says, has seen the Tunisian authorities hampering the "freedom of expression of journalists and their freedom of association as well as that of others attending the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society".

Besides denial of entry to Tunisia, the incidents cited include the ; the seizing of a camera from a Belgian TV cameraman; blocking of photos being taken of the incident; the beating up of a Tunisian journalist; and censoring various websites critical of Tunisia (these are accessible by delegates at the official WSIS venue, but blocked
in the rest of that country).

"Such incidents call into question the seriousness of the Tunisian government to allow full freedom of expression and association at the WSIS. The incidents show that prior concerns about the observance of human rights in Tunisia have been justified, underlining the widespread nature of official abuses in the country. They also illustrate that concerns about
holding a United Nations Summit dealing with communication and freedom of expression in such a country were justified," said the statement.

It called for "equal rights" to access information both within and outside the summit site, rights for journos to freely report on Tunisia without intimidation, free movement for the media, and ensuring no retribution against Tunisians meeting with the international community.

More information from Joel Rubin or Article19 at Amwell Street, London.

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