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UN defends decision to hold Internet summit in Tunisia despite rights record

[JURIST] The United Nations Wednesday defended its decision approving Tunisia to host a UN summit on Internet access in the developing world, despite protests that the country is unfit due to repeated allegations of press and civil society abuses. The Tunisia Monitoring Group (TMG) [official website] issued a report [PDF text] earlier this week saying the country should not be permitted to host [TMG press release] the November World Summit on the Information Society [official website] because the Tunisian government [official website in French] has increased efforts to monitor email and internet cafes and currently blocks access to web sites created by Reporters Without Borders [official website] and the independent press. A spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan defended the UN's decision saying, "These kinds of international conferences can be beneficial to the people in the country hosting them. It opens up the country to the outside world and such a spotlight of attention gives the government strong incentives to try to meet international standards, including on human rights." Earlier this year, Tunisian police came under protest [JURIST report] for storming a courthouse to remove 50 lawyers gathered in opposition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's future attendance at the summit. AP has more.

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