Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi last week became the second head of state to sign the Declaration on Media Freedom in the Arab World. The declaration, which was also backed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this month , was signed during a meeting with a delegation representing the International Federation of Journalists , Tunisian unions SNJT, UGTT, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNESCO in Tunis on 26 August.
President Essebsi assured the delegation of his commitment to supporting media freedom and independence and to consult with the representatives of journalists over media reforms.
The Declaration had also been signed by heads of all parliamentary groups the previous day.
The Declaration - a clear commitment to the principles of media freedom, independent journalism and the right to information - was adopted at a meeting hosted by the International Federation of Journalists and the Moroccan journalists union (SNPM) in Casablanca in May 2016 and supported by numerous institutions including UNESCO, the government of Norway, the FES, Union to Union and EU-funded MedMedia programme.
It is the first step to establishing a Special Mechanism for Media Freedom in the region to uphold the principles contained in the Declaration.
Supported by hundreds of representatives of journalists unions, broadcasters, human rights organisations and press freedom groups it sets out 16 key principles to achieve the highest international standards of media freedom and protect and enhance journalists’ rights.
Among the principles in the Declaration are those covering:
§ Freedom of expression
§ Freedom of information
§ Journalists’ safety
§ Media law reform
§ Combating hate speech and intolerance
§ Independence of public service broadcasters
Read the IFJ’s full statement here