TUNIS: The Tunisian government vowed Wednesday to implement two decrees, passed last year but not yet enacted, guaranteeing press freedom and regulating audiovisual media, a key demand of journalists striking nationwide.
"The coalition government has decided to implement decrees 115 and 116 regulating the information sector," the official TAP news agency reported, citing an announcement by the prime minister's office.
The application of the two decrees, which were signed into law in November last year by then president Foued Mebazaa, had been blocked by the coalition government led by the ruling Islamist party Ennahda that came to power in late 2011.
The authorities judged that the decrees were incomplete but never amended them, fuelling accusations by journalists that the government had assumed discretionary powers over the media industry.
Decree 115, "relating to the freedom of the press, of printing and publishing," clarifies the rights of journalists, prohibiting "restrictions on the freedom to disseminate information," and protecting journalists' sources.
Decree 116 stipulates the creation of an independent authority to guarantee "the freedom of audiovisual communication," and charged with issuing radio and television licences.
Many journalists had expressed their concerns at the Islamist-led government's failure to apply decree 115.
Wednesday's announcement came as journalists observed a nationwide strike, after months of rising tensions with the authorities, to denounce perceived attempts to curb press freedom.
"The government always remains open to dialogue, to respond positively to all the issues that involve the information sector, and those which concern the social situation in certain media establishments," the statement from the premier's office said.