Sihem Bensedrine

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Sihem Bensedrine
سهام بن سدرين
Sihem Bensedrine, in January 2012
Born (1950-10-28) October 28, 1950 (age 73)
La Marsa, Tunisia
AwardsOxfam Novib/PEN Award

Sihem Bensedrine (Arabic: سهام بن سدرين) (born October 28, 1950) is a Tunisian journalist and human rights activist. In 2005, she was honored with the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award.[1]


She was born in La Marsa, near Tunis and went to France to study at the University of Toulouse, where she earned a degree in philosophy.

In 1980, she became a reporter for the independent journal Le Phare. When the journal stopped publication, she became a political chief at Maghreb, and then at Réalités. When Maghreb ceased publication because of the food riots in 1983, she became the editor-in-chief of Gazette Touristique and founded l'Hebdo Touristique. At the same time, she was overseeing the opposition newspaper El Mawkif.[citation needed]

She founded the publishing house Arcs in 1988, but it became bankrupt in 1992 because of the human rights crisis. In 1998, she became literary chief for the publishing house Noir sur Blanc.

In 1998, she founded the Conseil National pour les Libertés en Tunisie (CNLT), of which she became the primary spokesperson.

From 1999, she and her businesses were subject to numerous police and judicial actions, including confiscation and destruction of property and a personal libel campaign in which she was portrayed as a prostitute, because of her freedom of the press and human rights activities.

In 2000, she co-founded the online journal Kalima with Naziha Réjiba. In 2001, Réjiba and Bensedrine founded the group Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse, de L'Edition et de la Création (OLPEC), which promotes freedom of the press.[2]

on 17 June 2001, Bensedrine appeared on the "Le Grand Maghreb", Al Mustaquilla television station, based in London. She was openly critical of corruption in Tunisia and its government.[3] On 26 June 2001, she was arrested at the airport in Tunis Carthage following a television interview in which she denounced human rights abuses, including systematic use of torture and widespread judicial corruption. She was accused of spreading "false news with an aim towards disturbing public order",[3] "defamation"[3] and "undermining the judicial institution".[3][4] There was much confusion as to whether she had been arrested or not as the standard Tunisian legal procedures had not been followed. It was later confirmed by members of Lawyers Without Borders that she had been arrested and proper legal procedures were then maintained.

On 10 July 2001, Bensedrine was awarded the "Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat" at the Amnesty International UK Media Awards. Her husband and daughter received the award on her behalf.[5] On 12 August Bensedrine was released because of widespread support, both in Tunisia and abroad, particularly in France.[6][7] Bensedrine's arrest was positively linked to her appearance on the Al Mustaquilla television station and her appearance of 17 June 2001 was cited by the Tunisian Government as evidence in a defamation case which they pursued against the Al Mustaquilla television station.[8]

In 2004, Bensedrine was honored by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression with an International Press Freedom Award in recognition of her courage in defending and promoting press freedom.

In 2005, Bensedrine was honored with the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award.[1]

In 2008, Bensedrine received The Danish Peace Fund Prize as an acknowledgment of her unyielding commitment to the cause of democracy and rule of a law in her home country and for her efforts to organize networks among human rights activist in the Arab world.

In 2011 she was awarded the Alison Des Forges Award by Human Rights Watch in recognition of her twenty years working to expose human rights violations under former Tunisian President Ben Ali. The award "celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others".[9] She also won the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award.[10]

Radio Kalima was among the 12 radio stations that were received the recommendation of the National Authority for the Information and Communication Reform (NAICR)to be given a license, but as of September were still awaiting the blessing of the interim government.[11]

Since 2014, Ben Sidrine has headed the Truth and Dignity Commission in Tunisia,[12] a constitutional commission tasked with hearing testimony from victims of state-sanctioned torture and corruption between 1955 and 2011. The commission held its first public hearing session on November 18.[13]


Late 1970s Bensedrine and other members of the Tunisian Human Rights League won collectively the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. [14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jan Baeke (December 2005). "Novib / PEN Awards for persecuted writers". The Power of Culture. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  2. ^ Naziha Réjiba, Tunisia, Kalima (2009-09-23). "Naziha Réjiba, Tunisia, Kalima - Awards - Committee to Protect Journalists". Retrieved 2012-12-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d "Alert Sihem Bensedrine jailed, threats against Al Mustaquilla". IFEX IFEX Clearing House. Jun 27, 2001. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "Amnesty magazine Sept/Oct 2001 - Media Awards 2001 winners Amnesty International UK's 10th annual Media Awards". Archived from the original on April 15, 2002. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  5. ^ "Amnesty International UK Media Awards - 2001 winners". Archived from the original on November 10, 2002. Retrieved 2013-01-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "Amnesty International UK's 10th annual Media Awards - Press Notice". Archived from the original on May 1, 2001. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  7. ^ "Amnesty international media awards Media Awards 2001 10TH ANNUAL MEDIA AWARDS: WINNERS ANNOUNCED". Archived from the original on February 9, 2002. Retrieved 2013-01-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Alert Al Mustaquilla television station sued in London by the Tunisian regime". IFEX IFEX Clearing House. Aug 24, 2001. Archived from the original on October 15, 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
  9. ^ "Sihem Bensedrine, Tunisia | Human Rights Watch". 2012-08-13. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  10. ^ "Beynəlxalq Avrasiya Mətbuat Fondu". Archived from the original on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  11. ^ "politics - New Private Radios: Authorized but still Voiceless". Retrieved 2012-12-02.
  12. ^ "ihem Ben Sedrine: The tenuous position of the woman tasked with bringing those who profited under Tunisia's authoritarian regime to justice". 9 September 2015.
  13. ^ Gall, Carlotta (18 November 2016). "Silenced for Decades, 'Victims of Despotism' Air Torture Claims in Tunisia". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Sihem Bensedrine

External links[edit]