Oppression Family

To access the Position Paper, please click on this link oppression family

November 27, 2023

On November 27, 2023, Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms issued a Position Paper on laws that violate freedom of expression in Tunisia, entitled “Oppression Family,” for they infringe and restrict the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This has resulted in a series of violations by the Tunisian authorities against its citizens due to outdated laws unsuitable for the world’s and societies’ developments. In fact, most of them comply neither with human rights principles nor with international conventions Tunisia previously endorsed and is party to. Especially in the field of rights and freedoms, we highlight the right to freedom of expression, which, despite being constitutionally guaranteed, still witnesses several violations through political will and a legal system that includes several legislative texts that allow the ruling authority to repress this right.

This paper criticizes the content of these legal texts, the danger they pose to freedoms in Tunisia, and the threat they constitute against democracy components in light of the rule of Tunisian President Kais Saied. It also proposes alternatives to curb these violations and the imprisonment penalties faced by those expressing their opinions. In this context, the Position Paper is prepared with the aim of highlighting the laws adopted by the Tunisian state to restrict freedom of expression to the extent of violation. It also addresses the frequent use of these laws by the Tunisian state in recent years against various groups of citizens, particularly human rights advocates, politicians, journalists, and lawyers, in varying degrees of repression.

The paper starts by stating international conventions that guarantee freedom of speech and then criticizes the current local legal system that embodies the recurring violations of the aforementioned right, such as Article 125 of the Penal Code and Article 86 of the Communications Codes, as well as Decree No.54, which was issued after 25th July 2021 to further reinforce oppression and restriction on the digital space. In addition, the paper also tackled Article 67 of the Penal Code, which charges anyone who criticizes or expresses their opinion about the President’s performance with committing a heinous act against him.

Subsequently, Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms explains its point of view and position on these laws, emphasizing that they pose a serious threat as the Tunisian authority continues adopting them to restrict freedom of expression and criminalize opinions. It also underscores the necessity to revoke all laws and legislations that restrict freedoms, notably Decree No.54, and review the rest of the laws in line with international human rights standards. Moreover, any proceedings taken against citizens based on these unjust and unconstitutional laws must be halted. Building a true democracy requires respect for freedom of opinion and expression and refraining from restricting them under any pretext, including protest through legislation.

The paper concludes with the following set of recommendations addressed to:

Legislative Authority:

Revoke Decree No.54 related to combatting digital crimes due to the dangers it poses against freedom of expression in particular and the rights and freedoms system in Tunisia in general, as they do not comply with the universal human rights values and principles.

Amend all texts that criminalize criticism of public officials, employees, and other public figures, as well as clarify its concepts, such as Article 125 and Article 67 of the Penal code

Review and amend the Communications Code, especially Article 86, employed as a tool to try bloggers and activists on social media and determine its wording to be more precise than it currently is.

Judicial Authority:

Drop all charges and cease all judicial and legal proceedings against citizens who have been tried under laws criminalizing freedom of opinion and expression, especially cases related to Decree No.54, the number of which has continued to rise since the law’s enactment.

Civil Society and Political Parties:

Submit proposals for legislative system reforms, particularly in the field of rights and freedoms, to amend or revoke all the articles that criminalize opinion and result in imprisoning citizens for expressing their views.

Intensify efforts and meetings with various active civil forces to expose the practices carried out by the Tunisian state against the citizens and the violation of their right to expression.
To access the Position Paper, please click on this link oppression family