Tunisia Proposes to Amend Access Law, Add Commission

4 October 2013

The Tunisian government has proposed amendments to the post-revolution Decree 41 on accersss to information

The proposed changes would create an independent commission to monitor government performance on access to information and to process appeals.

Abderrahman Ladgham, the deputy prime minister for anti-corruption and good governance said, “If their demands [for information] are not met, citizens will be able to resort to this commission,” according to a report on Tunisia-Live Net. Penalties will be added  for violation of the law, he said.

Article 19, the London-based freedom of expression group, Oct. 1 called on the government to “further improve” Decree 41, pointing to “several weaknesses that have been previously identified but not redressed” in the latest draft. These include a lack of protections for whistleblowers.

Article 19 praised the proposed changes for no longer being limited to the disclosure of “administrative documents” but protecting the right of access to “information.”

However, Article 19 said, the draft Law “needs to improve the regime of exceptions for the refusal of requests for information, and should include a clear public interest override provisions.” The analysis continued: “The provisions on the Information Commission should be brought fully in line with international standards and best practices.”

The draft law is available here.

According to the Tunisia-Live Net report, “Authorities have been criticized for the slow implementation of Decree 41, meant to provide more access to information in the post-Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali era.”

“Despite the promulgation of Decree 41 and the effort made by civil society to put it into effect, both the administration and citizens are not quite familiar with the concept of transparency and the right to access information,” journalist Sarah Ben Hamadi wrote in Huffington Post Maghreb.

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