Sihem Bensedrine

Sihem Bensedrine (born October 28, 1950) is a Tunisian journalist and human rights activist.

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

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

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 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 released a month later because of widespread support, both in Tunisia and abroad, particularly in France.

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

In 2008, Besedrine received The Danish Peace Fund Prize as an acknowledgement 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.

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