Tunisian Assembly Hung Up On Exemptions Provision

10 March 2016

The Assembly of People’s Representatives in Tunisia on March 9 approved about one-third of the proposed 62 articles in draft law on access to information, according to a report (in French) in Business News.

But debate was suspended to consider compromises on the controversial Article 24, which contains exemptions that have been strongly criticized as excessive, as described in a Al Huffington article by Aymen Gharbi.

A coalition of Tunisian groups recently blasted a proposed right to information law brought in the Tunisian parliament.

The bill includes vague and unconstitutional exceptions, according to a statement by the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, Al Bawsala, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), as reported in French here and here.

The groups objected to exceptions such as one that would permit withholding information to protect the economic interests of the state. Exceptions relating to security and defense should be balancd, subject to judicial review and comply with the provisions established by the Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia, the groups wrote. The law as written is contrary to the right to information provision (Article 32) in the Constitution, they said.

They said the bill should be returned to committee that approved it Feb. 17

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