Journalists, publishers and their professional organizations from thirty Mediterranean countries, Europe and Africa, gathered at the first edition of the International Journalism Forum in Tunis, launch a solemn appeal to political leaders, economic leaders, representatives of trade unions, associations and civil society to defend freedom of expression and freedom of the press in their countries as a fragile and precious asset.
The right of every citizen to quality information is a fundamental right, like the right to drink clean water or breathe unpolluted air. States must guarantee free access to public information and data. In this sense, they welcome the approach initiated by RSF to get the community of states to commit to considering freedom of expression as a “common good” of humanity.
This requires the recognition in all countries of a real status for journalists; a status that allows us to practice our profession freely and with dignity. Strong support for journalism schools to provide quality lifelong learning. The creation of self-regulatory structures that guarantee the independence of public and private media, the respect of good practices, ethics and deontology at the service of citizens. They call on the leaders of their countries to finally put in place ambitious information education policies. Being well-informed can be learned.
Journalism is only meaningful if it serves the citizen. Journalists can be criticized, as can all those who have the privilege of intervening in the public debate. This criticism is even necessary.
But no journalist can be worried, threatened, censored, imprisoned, murdered just because he is a journalist!
We must stop the hate speech against journalists that is spreading on both sides of the Mediterranean. They sully their authors. They damage our countries.
The unspeakable murder of Jamal Kashoogi in a consulate, as well as the murders of journalists by states, terrorist movements or mafia cannot go unpunished. The real perpetrators of these crimes must be tried and justly condemned.
The arbitrary arrests and threats that continue to multiply in too many countries must stop. Investigations into the disappearance of journalists, such as that of our two Tunisian colleagues Sofiene Chourabi and Nadir Ktari – of whom we have had no news since September 8, 2014 – must resume without delay until the truth is obtained.
Journalists, publishers and citizens gathered at the first edition of the International Journalism Forum in Tunis, in partnership with the International Journalism Forum in Tours on the northern shore of the Mediterranean, are committed to continuing their exchanges to implement this call.
They will meet in October 2020 for the second edition of the International Journalism Conference in Tunis, in conjunction with the 49th edition of the French-speaking Press Union and all Tunisian professional organizations.
In Tunis, November 17, 2018