Police detain and beat Sihem Bensedrine and Omar Mestiri

Police detain and beat Sihem Bensedrine and Omar Mestiri

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned police who
detained and beat Tunisian journalist, Sihem Bensedrine, president of
the working group on press freedom in North Africa, and her husband,
Omar Mestiri, managing editor of the newspaper Kalima on their arrival
at la Goulette port yesterday.

The couple were seized by customs
officers at the port in the northern suburbs of Tunis and held for six
hours, during which time they were physically assaulted by the
political police. They were also subjected to a thorough body search
and police seized and copied the hard discs from their laptop computers.

“It is outrageous for a country which claims to
be in the forefront of modernity in the region to carry out this kind
of violent misuse of authority against Tunisian journalists and human
rights activists in their own country,” the worldwide press freedom
organisation said.

“We call on the Tunisian authorities to fully
investigate these police excesses”, the organisation added, pointing
out that Tunisia is ranked 145 out of 169 countries in Reporters
Without Borders’s worldwide press freedom index.

Sihem
Bensedrine, who was left with bruises to her body, told Reporters
Without Borders that said she had her husband would be making a
complaint against the customs for “brutality” and “false imprisonment”.
She said police had seized around 60 documents by copying them from
their hard discs. The customs had also refused to give the two
journalists a docket for their confiscated property as the law requires.

Bensedrine,
whose organisation is a partner of Reporters Without Borders, was on 7
February awarded the 2008 peace prize by the Danish Peace Foundation.

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