© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tunisia’s President Kais Saied offers a speech on the authorities’s swearing-in ceremony on the Carthage Palace outdoors the capital Tunis, Tunisia February 27, 2020. Fethi Belaid/Pool through REUTERS/File Picture
TUNIS (Reuters) – Tunisia’s president on Friday decreed a regulation imposing jail phrases for spreading false data or rumours on-line, a transfer instantly denounced by the primary journalists’ union as an assault on freedom of speech.
President Kais Saied had mentioned he would uphold the rights and freedoms received by Tunisians in a 2011 revolution that introduced democracy after his strikes final summer time to grab most powers and shut down the elected parliament.
His new regulation on Friday, issued as a presidential decree, offered for jail phrases of 5 years for spreading false information, false data or rumours with the purpose of attacking others, harming public safety or producing terror.
If the goal of the false data or rumours is an official, the jail time period might be 10 years, his new regulation mentioned.
“The decree is a brand new setback for rights and freedoms. The penalties for publishing in any networks are a robust blow to the revolutionary values that granted freedom to all journalists and all Tunisians,” mentioned Mahdi Jlassi, the journalists’ union head.
Jlassi added that the brand new regulation was paying homage to these utilized by the late autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to crack down on dissenting opponents.
Since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, its media has turn out to be one of the open of any Arab state, with even the state-owned information company often reporting criticism of the authorities.
Activists on social media websites criticised Saied’s decree, describing it as an effort to destroy these hard-won freedoms. Others mocked it, saying they might solely publish sports activities information or artwork on their social media accounts.
Saied’s critics accuse him of getting launched a coup final summer time when he seized government authority, transferring to one-man rule with a collection of decrees that he enshrined in a structure handed by a referendum in July.
Saied has denied performing unlawfully and says his actions have been wanted to save lots of Tunisia from years of stagnation and political paralysis.