EU advised to save money by scrapping “cynical” aid programme

first_img Follow the news on Tunisia Eleven organizations from civil society create the Forum on Information & Democracy, a structural response to information disorder TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa November 11, 2020 Find out more Tunisia : RSF asks Tunisian president’s office to respect journalists Reporters Without Borders said it was “amazed” by the “cynicism” of a 2.15 million euro European Union programme to support the Tunisian media and called on EU Commission President Romano Prodi to scrap it. Reporters Without Borders today urged the European Union to scrap a programme of support for the Tunisian news media, worth about 2,15 million euros, which is officially described as being designed to “strengthen the press as part of improving ties between the media and civil society in Tunisia.”In a letter to European Commission president Romano Prodi, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said the organisation was amazed by “such political cant and cynicism,” which gave the impression that those who conceived the programme knew nothing about the Tunisian media.All the media in Tunisia – press, radio and television – are subject to the whim of President Ben Ali and follow his orders, the organisation stressed in its letter. A close watch is kept on the Internet. Hundreds of websites cannot be accessed from Internet cafes. The dozen or so Internet service providers are controlled by the government or its associates. Journalists who try to express dissenting views are constantly harassed, silenced, forced into exile or just give up trying to work as journalists. Two journalist are currently languishing in prison.”No one who knows anything about the fate of freedom under Ben Ali’s rule will be amused by this so-called programme of support for the media,” Ménard said in the letter. “But does this mean nothing can be done to help Tunisian journalists? Not at all. On the contrary, for years the European Union helped Reporters Without Borders come to the aid of Ben Ali’s victims, whose names – such as Taoufik Ben Brick, Sihem Bensedrine and Zouhair Yahyaoui – are as a result well known.”Brussels used to have the decency, or the courage, to distinguish between Tunisia and the Tunisian regime, between the country’s successes and the turpitude of a ruling family that has the country in its grip, Ménard said. “Will we soon have to talk in the past tense of Europe’s boldness, which made it the best defender of Tunisia’s democrats? Will we have to resign ourselves to seeing the EU fall in with Jacques Chirac and his defence of the ‘democrat’ Bel Ali? It looks as though we will.”The only one honourable way out is to scrap this programme, Ménard concluded. “No one will find fault with that in these times of budgetary austerity. For once, saving money and moral imperative coincide.”An alternative way to help the Tunisian media, one that excludes the regime’s propaganda mouthpieces, has already been proposed to European bodies by Reporters Without Borders. This would be to help the few newspapers and TV stations that try to circulate alternative news from outside of Tunisia. News to go further February 4, 2004 – Updated on January 20, 2016 EU advised to save money by scrapping “cynical” aid programme Receive email alerts Help by sharing this information Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa News November 12, 2019 Find out more Organisation News News RSF_en December 26, 2019 Find out morelast_img

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