Based on Decree 54: Najla Bouden has Business News brought before the Criminal Court
Violation of the law, attack on freedom of the press, destabilization of the President of the Republic on the eve of the Francophonie Summit. We really don’t know how to qualify the official complaint filed against Business News by the Minister of Justice, Leïla Jaffel, on behalf of the head of government Najla Bouden.
Facts. On Thursday, November 10, 2022, Business News publishes an analytical article titled ” Najla Bouden, a good woman “. As our readers can attest, the article is factual and offers an analytical reading of the socio-political-economic situation and management of the Tunisian government.
On Friday 11 November Leïla Jaffel filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of First Instance of Tunis accusing Business News of “ defamation, publication of false information, false accusations against public officials and insults to the head of government “. The complaint alleges that the article has ” consequences on the security of the country and tries to reach the institutions of the state “.
For all of this, Ms. Jaffel calls on the Public Prosecutor’s Office to initiate the necessary criminal proceedings against the author of the article and the person in charge of the “Business News social network page” in accordance with the provisions of the decree of 54 September 13, 2022 relating to crimes in the field of information and communication systems.
On Monday 14 November, around 2 pm, two policemen presented themselves at the Business News headquarters with a summons on behalf of the journalist Raouf Ben Hédi and the 1um responsible for the newspaper to appear the same day before the criminal brigade.
Accompanied by his lawyer Me Zeineb Askri (of the Fethi El Mouldi firm), the director of Business News Nizar Bahloul points in front of the brigade to discover that it is the Minister of Justice himself who is filing the complaint and this for a more ordinary article.
The investigation proceeds without incident, being limited solely to the facts. The criminal agents demonstrated exemplary professionalism.
More than an hour after the questioning, the criminal officer informed Mr. Bahloul that he had to consult the prosecution to find out if he should be released or if there was a deferment warrant against him.
The answer comes about an hour later with the release decision. The prosecution representative, however, sends us a message, signifying his total respect for the freedom of the press and journalists.
In this case, there are several questions. In terms of shape, there are two glaring shape shortcomings. The first is that the complaint is made by Mrs Jaffel concerning a hypothetical injury affecting Mrs Bouden. However, the complaint must be personal and it is up to the head of government to present it. The second formal defect is that the complaint is presented on the basis of decree 54. However, it is a journalistic article written by a journalist, holder of the official press card. Since there is a specific code for the press (decree 115), the Minister of Justice cannot cite generalist decree 54. It is a rule of law, one cannot speak of a general law when there is a specific law.
On the merits, the complaint speaks of defamation, insults and false accusations, but fails to specify which are the sentences of the article that support these statements. He talks about consequences for the country’s security, without saying which ones. It is not for the criminal agent, nor for the prosecution, nor for the judge to look for these words and these sentences, it is for the plaintiff to indicate them.
If the head of government and his minister try to intimidate and silence Business News, leave them disappointed, we will not let him go. The right to information and freedom of the press are sacred to us and to our readers.
Business News will continue its work and mission of informing its readers. Any other activity is suicidal. See you in the next episode.