MONTREAL, July 13 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders condemns the
eight-month jail sentence that a Tunis court has imposed on 69-year-old
academic and human rights activist Khedija Arfaoui for posting a message on
the social networking website Facebook in May referring to widespread rumours
about children being kidnapped in Tunisia for their organs.
She was convicted on 4 July of "disturbing public order" under article
121 of the criminal code, which states that "anyone stirring up rebellion by
means of speeches in public places or meetings, or placards, posters or
written texts is punishable as if they had participated in the rebellion."
"This conviction has no legal basis," Reporters Without Borders said.
"Tunisia has no Internet laws and this is the first time a Tunisian court has
issued a decision concerning a Facebook post. All Arfaoui did was post an
already-existing message. She was in no way responsible for starting the
rumour. The authorities are just using her as a scapegoat. Her conviction must
be quashed immediately."
Arfaoui had no idea she had been charged until she read in the newspapers
on 31 May that her trial was due to begin on 6 June, and she got no formal
notification until 5 June. She was represented by lawyers at a second hearing,
held on 27 June, but they were not allowed to see the prosecution case file.
She and her lawyers did not know that a verdict and sentence had been issued
until they read it in the newspapers on 5 July.
One of her lawyers said:
For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)