Blogger’s Sentence Upheld; Fears for Safety
PEN International condemns the detention of blogger Jabeur Mejri, whose seven-and-a-half-year sentence for expressing allegedly blasphemous views online was confirmed by the Court of Cassation on April 25, 2013. Mejri has been in prison since his arrest on March 5, 2012. PEN considers Jabeur Mejri to be targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a signatory. PEN calls for his immediate and unconditional release and urgently seeks guarantees of his safety in detention.
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According to PEN’s information, blogger Jabeur Mejri was arrested on March 5, 2012, for using social networks to publicize a satirical book entitled The Illusion of Islam. On March 9, 2012, a primary court in Mahdia, eastern Tunisia, charged Mejri with “disturbing the public order and violating social morals” under article 121 (3) and 226 of the nPenal Code, and with “publishing articles which violate good morals” under article 86 of the Communication Law. On March 15, 2012, the primary court sentenced him to seven and half years in prison. Mejri was also fined 1200 Tunisian Dinars ($790). The author of the book, writer Ghazi Beji, was also charged in the case but fled Tunisia and was sentenced to seven and half years in prison in absentia. Mejir, however, has been in prison since he was arrested in 2012. He has lost all appeals and, on April 25, 2013, the Court of Cassation upheld his sentence.
According to Mejri’s lawyer, he was tortured during his interrogation and was also attacked on several occasions inside the prison by other prisoners after news spread that he had “insulted Islam.” Mejri suffers from behavioral problems and requests by his defense team for an examination of his mental state were refused by the court.
On April 23, 2013, a committee supporting Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji published a letter from Mejri, written in his prison cell in Mahdia, in which he claims he has been subject to torture. Mejri wrote:
"There's no freedom of expression here in Tunisia, it is dead…I am denied medicine to cure my illness and other rights. Seven years and six months is a long period to spend in a small, dark, and gloomy place. Officers take pleasure in torturing me."
More information on the case can be found here.
Write A Letter
- Condemning the harsh prison sentence handed down to blogger Jabeur Mejri solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to free expression;
- Calling for his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a signatory;
- Expressing concerns for his safety, and seeking assurances that he is not being tortured or ill-treated in detention which violates Article 5 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- Urging the Tunisian authorities to allow him access to immediate medical attention.
Send Your Letter To
Fax: +216 71 744 721
Place du Gouvernement - La Kasbah
Tunis 1020, Tunisia
E-mail : [email protected]
Minister of Justice
Nadhir Ben Ammou
Ministry of Justice
31 boulevard Bab Benat
Tunis 1006, Tunisia
E-mail : [email protected]
Fax: +216 71 568 106
Minister of Human Rights and Transitional Justice
2 rue d’Alger 1000
Fax : +216 71 349 900
And Copies to:
Directeur Général des Prisons
Rue 8003, Appartement –L-
Espace de Tunis Monplaisir
Fax: +216 71 904 472
***Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after June 30, 2013***