Groups Seek Return of RTI Bill for Passage in Tunisia

15 July 2015

Article 19 and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network have called on the Tunisian government to get back to work on right to information legislation

The joint statement expressed “deep concern” that the government recently withdrew the draft fundamental law on the right to access information “without any apparent reason just prior to its final adoption.” (See previous article.) “We call on the Tunisian government to rescind its decision and urge the expedited adoption of the law,” it said.

The draft law “had already passed through all the formal stages of consultation in the committees of the National Constituent Assembly and the People’s Representatives’ Assembly and a final report had been produced in preparation for its presentation to the plenary of the People’s Representatives’ Assembly for its final approval,” according to the statement.

“The Tunisian authorities must complete their efforts to ensure the right to information, which is guaranteed by the new Tunisian Constitution, by adopting the draft law and ensuring its proper implementation,” said Rami Salhi, Director of Maghreb Office of Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.

“The withdrawal of the access to information bill is a step in the wrong direction” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Director of Programmes at Article 19.

“Legitimate responses to terror attacks should not undermine efforts to improve government transparency,” he also said, continuing, “Governments are more secure when they are accountable.”

The government “has ignored requests from civil society for the government to withdraw other draft laws which threaten freedom of expression in Tunisia, such as the draft law on `repressing the offenses against armed forces,’ which criminalizes any criticism of the armed forces,” the groups’ statement added.

The revised version of the draft law is “notably more progressive than the provisions in Decree 41/2011 in terms of compliance with international principles on access to information,” the groups said, also noting, “It is also a key promise in Tunisia’s commitments under the Open Government Partnership.”

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