The journalists, the editors and their professional organizations from thirty countries of the Mediterranean region, Europe and Africa, gathered at the first edition of the Assises Internationales du Journalisme de Tunis, launch an earnest appeal to political leaders, business leaders, representatives of trade unions, associations and civil society to protect freedom of expression and freedom of the media in their countries as a fragile and valuable asset.
The right of every citizen to quality information is a fundamental right, such as drinking healthy water and breathing clean air. States must guarantee free access to public information and data. In this respect, they welcome the initiative launched by RSF (Reporters without Borders) encouraging the international community to consider freedom of expression as a “common good” of humanity.
This requires recognition by all countries of a real status for journalists; a status that allows us to exercise our profession freely and with dignity, strong support for journalism schools to provide lifelong quality training, the creation of self-regulatory structures that guarantee the independence of the public and private media, respect for good practices, ethics and deontology in the service of citizens. Finally, they call on the leaders of their countries to put in place ambitious media education policies. Being well informed, this can be learned.
Journalism only makes sense if it serves the citizen. Journalists can be criticized, as are all those who have the privilege of taking part in the public debate. This criticism is even necessary. But no journalist should be harassed, threatened, censored, jailed or murdered because of his profession.
We must contain and put an end to the hate speech against journalists which spreads on both shores of the Mediterranean. It tarnishes the reputation of its authors. It hurts our countries.
The unspeakable assassination of Jamal Kashoogi in a consulate, just like the murders of journalists by states, terrorist or mafia movements cannot go unpunished. The real perpetrators of these crimes must be tried and brought to justice.
Arbitrary arrests, threats that continue to spread in too many countries must stop. Investigations into the disappearance of journalists, like our two Tunisian colleagues Sofiene Chourabi and Nadir Ktari – of whom we have heard no news since September 8, 2014 – must resume without delay until the truth is obtained.
The journalists, editors and citizens gathered during the first edition of the Assises Internationales du Journalisme de Tunis, in partnership with the Assises Internationales du Journalisme de Tours on the Northern shore of the Mediterranean, pledge to continue their exchanges to implement this appeal.
They will meet in October 2020 for the second edition of the Assises Internationales du Journalisme de Tunis, in connection with the 49th edition of the Assises of the Union of the Francophone Press and all the Tunisian professional organizations.