The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said ,today, that the Tunisian government is still insisting on violating freedom of opinion and expression and resorting to illegal practices to prevent opponents from expressing opinion.
Tunis appeal court has refused to release the journalist Zuhair Makhlouf despite he had completed his three month term convicted with “abusing others”.
The same court also rejected the defense appeal to release the journalist "Taoufik Ben Brik," who was convicted of “assaulting a woman on the street”. The court decided to continue on holding Ben Brik and adjourned the appeal hearing to 30/1/2010. Ben Brik was sentenced to six months in the trial described by human rights activists as “an attempt to inhibit Ben Brik criticism of the Government”.
On 1/12/2009, a Tunisian court sentenced Makhlouf to three months in prison and a fine of 6000 dinars (about $4600 U.S. dollars) for allegedly "abusing others via public communications networks”. The court of appeal refused to release him after the defense had submitted a release request stating that Zuhair had served full term (he was detained on 19/10/2009).
Zuhair Makhlouf writes for “AlMaoukef” weekly speaking for the democratic progressive opposition party and is a correspondent of “Assabil Online”,an electronic Tunisian Islamic-oriented web site hosted in Germany and blocked in Tunisia.
The Court of Appeal rejected defense requests to release Taoufik Ben Brik and adjourned the appeal hearing to 30/1/2010. Ben Brik ,49 years, is a staunch opponent of the Tunisian regime. He writes for several French papers among which is Le Nouvelle Observateur and is known for his sarcastic critical articles.
On 26/11/2009, Tunis court of first instance , misdemeanor chamber , sentenced Taoufik Ben Brik to six months in prison for allegedly "violent assault and intentional property damage”. Ben Brik has developed a critical health condition as he is seriously ill and is denied proper health care in prison.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information demanded the Tunisian government to respect the law and to stop pursuing opponents, journalists and political activists. ANHRI asserted that it is compulsory to release all prisoners of conscience and to fulfill electoral promises of the Tunisian president during the election campaign where he took the pledge to respect press freedoms, promises which turned out to be merely bubbles in the air. Once Ben Ali won the elections he declared he would sue all those who had tarnished image of Tunisia and those who had asserted that the elections were rigged .