Ongoing Repression Against Journalists in Tunisia: Zied el-Heni Arrested Again

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

The seasoned journalist Zied el-Heni finds himself once more behind bars, exemplifying the escalating crackdown on press freedom in the country. Known for his outspoken criticism of the ruling authorities, whether during the era of former President Ben Ali, in the aftermath of the revolution, or under the current administration of President Kaïs Saïed, el-Heni has become a frequent target of arrests. His latest detention underscores the tightening grip on the media since the regime’s hardline stance in Tunis.

Zied el-Heni’s return to prison follows his outspoken remarks on a private radio station, where he didn’t mince words in expressing his opposition to President Kaïs Saïed’s regime, advocating for its downfall. Shortly after publicly criticizing the perceived inaction of the Minister of Commerce, whom he referred to as a “kazi” (meaning “puppet” in Tunisian Arabic), the journalist found himself in police custody, spending the night behind bars.

This recent arrest is not unfamiliar territory for el-Heni. In June of the previous year, he faced a 48-hour detention for scrutinizing a law penalizing offenses against the head of state.

These incidents unfold against the backdrop of Tunisia’s adoption in 2022 of Decree 54, targeting the dissemination of “fake news” and facilitating legal actions against dissident journalists or public figures. Since President Kaïs Saïed assumed full powers in 2021, Tunisia has witnessed a sharp decline in press freedom, plummeting from the 73rd to the 121st position in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Press Freedom Index, reflecting a concerning trend.

As the international community observes these developments, concerns grow over the erosion of democratic values and the stifling of dissent in Tunisia. The plight of Zied el-Heni serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by journalists striving to uphold the principles of a free and independent press in a changing political landscape.

Soukaina Sghir

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