Fostering media freedom in Tunisia through the creation of a desk officer temporary position in Tunisia
In Tunisia, both the print press and broadcasting were tightly controlled by public authorities. The mainstream press toed the party line and authorities regularly blocked access to alternate news sources. In the wake of the January 2011 popular revolt, many journalists have been able to enjoy new-found freedoms. The new government will now be faced with the difficult task of ensuring a smooth democratic transition, involving: 1) Creating a favourable environment for the media to fulfil their democratic potential will be essential in this process. 2) Putting in place new media laws. These and other pressing challenges have to be addressed for media to effectively play a central role in empowering individuals, fostering democratic transition, stability and long-standing peace.
Stakeholders involved in media legislation reforms need precise and coherent capacity building and resources about international standards to enable freedom of expression and the universal right to access to information, including through the Internet. It is time that the journalistic communities consolidate themselves, and implement professional standards, and thus increase the social respect journalists deserve as agents of the public interest, ensuring defence and respect of fundamental rights. Women and youth in particular need to have easy access to reliable and comprehensible information in Arabic about their rights and freedoms. They also need media and information literacy to tackle direct or soft censorship. Access to such information should be provided both offline and online, through Internet and social networks that demonstrated the viral effect in spreading the demand for political and social change.
In the above context, this project will respond to the urgent need to establish a project desk officer for communication and information in Tunisia. The main functions of the incumbent will be to provide advisory and guidance to the Tunisian Government, especially for the staff of the Ministry of Information and Culture in designing, coordinating and implementing communication projects. The appointment will facilitate the new Tunisian Government to develop and design communication and information strategies for the recovery, reconstruction, and democratization of the Tunisian Society, and assist the Constituent Assembly and civil society in devising the new constitution.