Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tunisian Draft Constitution Draws Some Praise, Criticism

Human Rights Watch wrote last week to the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly on its second draft constitution, released December 14, 2012.  HRW faintly praised the Assembly for improvements since the first draft--dropping the criminalization on "the sacred" and any form of "normalization" with "Zionism and the Zionist state," including language that better protects equal rights of women--and sharply criticized the Assembly for continued problems.  Among the criticisms:

  • The draft fails to explicitly mention international human rights conventions and fails to specify whether human rights treaties that have been ratified by Tunisia apply directly as law in Tunisia.
  • The draft includes language that protects various rights, but with provisos like "as provided for by law," or some such, suggesting that "the law" has broad leeway to interpret limitations on rights.
  • The State of Emergency provision, Article 73, doesn't sufficiently define limitations or protect nonderogable rights.
  • The draft provides for immunity for the president during and after office for all official acts, without allowing for prosecution for war crimes.
  • Anti-discrimination provisions are at odds with other provisions limiting offices like the presidency to Muslims.
  • The draft has weak guarantees for the tenure of judges and thus for an independent judiciary.

HRW also outlined a series of recommended changes.


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