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Tunisia:Bloggers arrested for criticizing the government



THE INVESTIGATION

Authorities are investigating, charging, and in some cases detaining bloggers and social media activists merely for their peaceful criticism of public officials. At least nine bloggers have faced criminal charges since 2017 for comments on social media platforms criticizing high public officials, accusing them of corruption or allegedly insulting them.

The charges frequently include accusing public officials of crimes related to their jobs without furnishing proof of their guilt, under article 128 of the penal code, which provides for up to two years in prison. Many of those charged under article 128 have also been charged under the broadly worded article 86 of the telecommunication code. That law, dating to the period when Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was president, provides for one to two years in prison for anyone who “willfully knowingly harms others or disturbs them via public telecommunications networks.”

On August 29, 2018, Amina Mansour, a blogger, posted a status update on her Facebook wall addressing Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, saying that member of parliament “Fadhel Omrane did not lie when he told you that you gave promotions to all the criminals in the customs agency. Pow! Sorry, Youssef, my dear, your corruption show has fallen apart.” The post also blamed other officials of corruption and the prime minister of promoting corrupt customs officials.

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