(Tunis) – An appeals court on October 17, 2013, overturned the conviction of a rapper on charges of “insulting the police”. But Tunisian legislators should abolish laws that criminalize defamation and “insulting” state officials and institutions.
A district court had sentenced the rapper, Klay BBJ, to six months in prison for performing lyrics it deemed “insulting” at a summer music festival. Laws criminalizing peaceful criticism and even “insults” to public officials and institutions violate international standards on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said.
“It’s great to see Klay BBJ free, but meanwhile he spent three weeks in prison and never should have been charged in the first place,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Tunisia needs to stop arresting people for offending government officials or institutions and get rid of the laws that criminalize that kind of criticism.”