Tunisia is one of the few countries where the ‘Arab Spring’ has led to greater freedom – at least for now. Tunisians are concerned about the corruption in their country. Investigative journalism can expose this corruption and other injustices, which is why Free Press Unlimited has supported journalists in Tunisia since 2014, together with our partner, Media Development Centre.

Tunisia is in a precarious state. Since President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who took power in 1987, was deposed in 2011, people now have more freedom to say what they want. At the same time, many Tunisians are concerned about the corruption in their country, and the nation faces various problems which threaten stability in Tunisia.

Instability

Tourism is an important source of income for this country. Attacks on the Bardo museum in Tunis and on the beach at Sousse have caused the tourism industry to collapse, leading to even higher unemployment and greater frustration. Tunisia shares a border with the chaotic Libya, which brings extra misery and instability as the south of the country suffers from regular attacks by militants. It is unclear on which side of the border these militants are based, as sources contradict each other.

Journalism

Given the situation, it is especially important to support and train journalists. Tunisians need news and analyses covering all these developments in their country. At the moment, the Tunisian government is understandably prioritising the fight against terrorism, a subject which must also be prominent in journalists’ investigations, to prevent the rise of a new dictatorial regime that could once more crack down on the current freedom.

What we do

Because of this, we have supported Tunisian journalists since 2014, along with our partner organisation, Media Development Centre. In 2016 we trained 25 of these journalists in investigative journalism. Six of them trained as mentors, in order to help other reporters to further develop their profession.

Results

The training returned immediate results. Media Development Centre held a competition for investigative articles, for which one student submitted a radio broadcast about a phosphate plant polluting the Sfax region. Another report submitted to the competition concerns human trafficking. In a radio broadcast, the journalist showed that groups of up to 50 people from the Tataouine province were taken to Libya, where they were recruited by militant groups.

Future

The press is still very weak, especially in the provinces outside the capital, Tunis. In the future we also hope to train journalists and mentors in that area. A better-informed population is important to regain stability in a country which has already improved so much in a short time.