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Tunisia

Tunisia is bound by international conventions protecting civic rights and freedoms, such as the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Tunisian Constitution and legislation guarantee and protect those civic freedoms.

The right to access information in government documents is governed by two main legislative instruments: Decree Law No. 41 of 2011 on the access to the administrative documents of public bodies and Law No. 22 of 2016 on the right to access information.

Law No. 115 of 2011 on freedom of expression and the press regulates freedom of expression in the field of publications, artistic works, books, and periodicals. While the Law protects and guarantees freedom of expression and the press, it also identifies a number of criminal punishments against an array of acts that the Law calls “offenses committed by the press or by any other means of publication.” Likewise, articles 121 and 128 of the Penal Code impose restrictions on publishing or disseminating certain information deemed false or harmful.

Decree Law No. 88 of 2011 regulates the establishment and work of civil society organizations, while Law No. 69-4 of 1969 regulates marches, public meetings, rallies, demonstrations, and assemblies.

Law No. 63 of 2004 on the protection of personal data is the main instrument regulating the right to privacy and protection of personal data. The Code of Criminal Procedures also regulates the privacy of a residence. Both legal instruments impose some restrictions on the right to privacy and protection of personal data. Moreover, Law No. 61 of 2016 punishes anyone who conducts illegal surveillance operations.

Decree No. 4773 of 2014 regulates internet neutrality and the conditions and procedures for granting authorization to supply internet services. 

I. Introduction

Tunisia is bound by international conventions protecting rights and freedoms related to civic space, such as the 1966International Covenanton Civiland PoliticalRights.[1] Tunisia’s Constitution and domestic legislation create some exceptions to rights and freedoms related to civic space while also guaranteeing and protecting those rights and freedoms. 

II.  Legally Protected Rights and Freedoms

A. Right to Access Government Information

1. Constitutional Provisions

The 2014 Tunisian Constitution grants all Tunisian citizens the right to access government information and stipulates that the state is the guarantor of this right.[2]

2. Domestic Legislation

In addition to the Constitution, the Tunisian government guarantees the right to access information held by the government through two main legislative instruments: Decree Law No. 41 of 2011 on Access to Administrative Documents of Government Bodies and Law No. 22 of 2016 on the Right to Access Information.

a. Decree Law No. 41 of 2011

Decree Law No. 41 of 2011 consists of 24 articles,[3] which define the principles and rules governing access to the administrative documents of government bodies.[4] The Law grants any natural or legal person the right to access such documents by submitting a written request for information.[5] It also requires government entities to regularly publish the following:

  • Information about its organizational structure, functions, tasks, and policies
  • Important decisions and policies that affect the public
  • The procedures followed during the decision-making process
  • A list of the employees of such government entity and their tasks
  • Regulations and manuals related to the government entity
  • A description of services and programs offered by the government entity
  • A guide to help citizens on how to request administrative documents from the government entity[6]

Any application regarding a request for information of public documents must include the first and last name of the individual requesting the information and his/her mailing address. If a legal entity is requesting the information, it must include the address of its registered office. Also, the application must include the name of the government body and the necessary information pertaining to the requested administrative documents and data.[7]

Under Decree Law No. 41 of 2011, a government entity may refuse to respond to a request for information to issue specific administrative documents if those documents are protected by the law on personal data and the rights of literary and artistic property or by a judicial decision, or are confidential documents.[8] Furthermore, the government entity may refuse to issue an administrative document when the document

  • concerns a bilateral relationship between the state of Tunisia and other countries or international organizations,
  • concerns national security and defense,
  • is related to an ongoing criminal investigation,
  • is related to the arrest and trial of an accused person,
  • violates the process of public procurement, or
  • will damage the commercial or financial legitimate interests of such government entity.[9]

b.  Law No. 22 of 2016

Law No. 22 of 2016 regulates the right to access government information.[10] The Law requires all government bodies, public institutions, and all institutions that receive public funding to furnish government information upon request, including organizational charts, legal texts, state agreements, public policies and programs, procurement processes, statistics, and any information relating to public finances, including detailed budget-related data at the central, regional, and local levels.[11]

Law No. 22 of 2016 is similar to Law Decree No. 41 of 2011 in terms of the information the requestor must include in the application to request government information.[12] The government body must respond to any request to access government information within a period not exceeding twenty days from the date of receipt of the request.[13] If the public entity rejects the request for information it must provide the requestor with a written justification for doing so.[14] The requestor then has the right to challenge the rejection by filing a petition for reconsideration with the entity within 20 days of being notified with the rejection.[15] If the entity rejects the petitions, an appeal may be lodged before the Access to Information Authority (see below).

The Law grants any person the right to access government information free of charge. However, if the government entity must incur some costs to provide the information it will inform the requestor in advance of the need to pay such costs.[16]

Pursuant to Law No. 22 of 2016, a government entity may refuse to provide specific government information to the requestor when such information pertains to national security and defense, international relations, the rights of a third party to privacy and the protection of his/her personal data, and the protection of intellectual property.[17] Moreover, the right to access government information does not include the right to access data regarding the concealed identity of whistleblowers who have reported abuse or cases of corruption.[18]

The Law requires the government entity to disclose any information related to serious violations of human rights, war crimes, and the prosecution of perpetrators of such crimes, provided that such disclosure does not endanger the supreme interest of the Tunisian state.[19]

Finally, the Law establishes an entity called the Access to Information Authority.[20] The objectives of the Authority are to

  • adjudicate law suits submitted by requestors after a government entity’s rejection of a request to disclose information,
  • monitor the obligations of government entities under Law No. 22 of 2016,
  • promote the principle of the right to access government information in coordination with nongovernmental organizations via public awareness campaigns, and
  • prepare annual reports on the activities of the Authority.[21]

The Law also identifies the structure of the Authority,[22] the number of its board members,[23] and its financial resources.[24] 

B. Freedom of Expression and the Press

1. Constitutional Provisions

The Tunisian Constitution protects freedom of expression and the press. It provides that freedom of opinion, thought, expression, information, and publication must be guaranteed by the Tunisian state. Moreover, these freedoms must not be subject to any prior censorship.[25] It also states that freedom of creative expression is guaranteed by the Tunisian state.[26]

2. Domestic Legislation

a. Law No. 115 of 2011

Law No. 115 of 2011 on the freedom of expression and the press consists of 80 articles. [27] Its main purpose is to regulate freedom of expression in the field of publications, artistic works, books and periodicals. The Law provides that the right to freedom of expression includes the free flow of ideas, opinions, and information of all kinds; their publication; their reception; and their exchange.[28] Additionally, the Law stipulates that freedom of expression is guaranteed and exercised in accordance with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant international conventions ratified by the Republic of Tunisia.[29]

The Law defines the term “journalist” as an individual seeking the collection and dissemination of news, views, and ideas who transmits them to the public on a primary and regular basis. The Law requires that a journalist hold a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in science and work for a daily or periodical news agency or agencies, or for audiovisual media and electronic media outlets, and receive a salary from such institutions.[30]

The Law provides special protection to journalists’ sources. Yet, those sources of news may be revealed through a judicial order for reasons related to state security or national defense.[31]

The Law guarantees freedom of expression by allowing the free publication of new periodicals without any prior authorization.[32] However, before issuing the first news periodical, the manager of the news outlet must file a statement before the First Instance Court with the name of the news periodical and the printing house where it will be printed.[33]

The Law requires any newspaper to publish in each issue the names of the persons who own the newspaper; if the newspaper is owned by a legal person the publication must include the name of the legal entity owning the newspaper, the address of its registered office, and the names of the newspaper’s legal representatives. The Law also mandates that each newspaper publish the name of its director and editorial director as well as the number of copies printed for each issue.[34]

Finally, the Law grants persons the right to request the correction of any article containing incorrect information, provided they have a direct and legitimate interest in such rectification. The corrected text must not exceed the length of the original article. The newspaper that publishes the correction must do so for free in one of the three issues following the date of its receipt of the request for the correction.[35]

Law No. 115 of 2011 protects and guarantees freedom of expression and the press. However, it identifies a number of criminal punishments against an array of acts that the Law calls “offenses committed by the press or by any other means of publication.” To illustrate, under the Law anyone who incites the public, through a publication, to commit the crime of homicide, physical assault on a person, rape, looting, war crimes, crimes against humanity, or cooperation with an enemy of the state must be sanctioned with a term of imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of 50,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$18,000).[36]

Similarly, the Law provides that any person who uses any publication (printed or electronic) to call for discrimination against a specific race, religion, or population or uses propaganda to incite violence against a race, religion, or population, is punishable by a term of imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of 1,000 to 2,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$364 to $728).[37] Any person who publishes, either electronically or in print, “false news” that disturbs the public peace is punishable with a fine of 2,000 to 5,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$728 to $1,820).[38]

The Law defines the term “defamation” as any false accusation or imputation of information that is likely to damage the honor and integrity of a particular person. Such person must be targeted personally and suffer direct damage as a result of the publication of this false information or accusation.[39] The author of an article published in a print or electronic publication who is convicted of defamation is punishable with a fine of 1,000 and 2,000 Tunisian dinars.[40]

A person who publishes the identity of a minor victim of rape or sexual assault is punishable with a term of imprisonment of one to three years and a fine of 3,000 to 5,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$1,092 to $1,820).[41] The Law also prohibits the publication of documents concerning ongoing investigations absent the court’s permission. Violators are punishable with a fine of 1000 to 2000 Tunisian dinars.[42]

b. Penal Code

As previously mentioned, the 2014 Tunisian Constitution protects and guarantees freedom of expression and the press. However, article 128 of the Penal Code punishes any person who publishes in the press any false information against a government official or publically issues false accusations against a government official with a term of imprisonment of two years and a fine of 120 Tunisian dinars (about US$43).[43] According to Human Rights Watch, on September 13, 2018, the First Instance Court of Ben Arous in northeastern Tunisia sentenced blogger Amina Mansour to a suspended two-month term of imprisonment for a Facebook post in which she claimed that the Prime Minister’s alleged war against corruption is not true, applying article 128.[44]

The Penal Code also penalizes anyone who disseminates news that could cause harm to public order or public morals with a term of imprisonment of six month to five years and fine of 120 to 1200 Tunisian dinars (about US$43 to $436).[45] According to Amnesty International, on January 15, 2018, Kais Bouazizi was arrested in the City of Sidi Bouzid of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, after posting on Facebook a call for protests against the government’s economic and financial measures.[46]

C. Freedom of Association

1. Constitutional Provisions

The Tunisian Constitution protects the freedom to establish nongovernmental associations.[47]

2. Domestic Legislation

a. Decree Law No. 88 of 2011

Decree Law No. 88 of 2011 regulates the establishment and work of nongovernmental associations.[48] The Law guarantees the freedom to create nongovernmental associations and supports the role of civil society and its activities.[49] The Law defines the term “non-governmental association” as an agreement between two or more persons by virtue of which they operate permanently to achieve objectives that do not include the realization of profits.[50]

A nongovernmental association’s activities and funding must adhere to the principles of rule of law, democracy, plurality, transparency, equality, and human rights and conform to international conventions regulating those principles.[51] A nongovernmental association is prohibited from engaging in incitement to violence, hatred, fanaticism, or discrimination, or from carrying out commercial activities to benefit its members or evade taxes.[52] 

Nongovernmental associations have the right to access government information, evaluate the performance of government institutions, and submit recommendations to improve their performance. Nongovernmental associations are also allowed to organize meetings, demonstrations, conferences, and workshops, and engage in all types of civil activities; publish reports and other information materials; and conduct opinion polls.[53] Public authorities are barred from directly or indirectly hindering or slowing down the activities of nongovernmental associations.[54] The Tunisian state is required to make all necessary arrangements to ensure that individuals working in nongovernmental associations are protected from violence, threats, or any coercive measures while performing their work.[55]

Both Tunisian nationals and foreign residents of Tunisia have the right to establish civil society organizations,[56] so long as they are at least sixteen years old.[57]

Nongovernmental associations must obtain permission before starting work.[58] Individuals interested in establishing a nongovernmental association must send a registered letter of notification to the Secretary General of the Cabinet and a copy of the letter to the Official Gazette of Tunisia for publication.[59] The letter must contain a declaration providing the title, purpose, objectives, and address of the association and any branches it may have.[60] If the founders of the association are Tunisian citizens, they must include copies of their national identification cards with the letter to the Cabinet. If they are foreigners, they must submit copies of their residency permits.[61]  

The letter must also include two original copies of the bylaws of the organization and the following information:

  • The official name of the organization in Arabic and in any foreign language if appropriate
  • The address of the organization’s headquarters
  • A statement of the organization’s objectives and how those objectives will be implemented
  • Membership and termination criteria and the rights and duties of each member
  • A statement of the organizational structure, method of election, and powers of each administrative body of the organization
  • Identification of the body within the organization that has the power to amend the internal bylaws and make decisions regarding dissolution, merger, or division
  • Definition of the decision-making methodology and mechanisms of dispute resolution
  • The amount of the monthly or annual membership fees, if any[62]

Individuals who are interested in joining a nongovernmental association must not be less than 13 years of age.[63] The Law allows foreign nongovernmental associations to open branches in Tunisia.[64] Foreign associations must show in their notification letters to the Cabinet that they are legally established in their countries of origin as well.[65]

Any nongovernmental association that receives funding from a foreign source must notify the Secretary General of the Cabinet via a registered letter of the amount and source of funding, as well as the purpose of such funding. This notification letter must be published by a newspaper in writing and posted on the organization’s website.[66]

The Law grants the First Instance Court the power to suspend the activities of a nongovernmental association if it has violated any provisions of Law No. 88 of 2011.[67]

b. Law No. 52 of 2018

Law No. 52 of 2018 on the National Registry of Associations requires nongovernmental associations to register with a National Registry created by the Tunisian authorities.[68] The registration must include the association’s name, headquarters’ address, nature of its activities, and date of establishment.[69] Failure to register may result in a year of imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 Tunisian dinars (about US$3,641).[70]

D. Freedom of Assembly

1. Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution guarantees the right of assembly and peaceful demonstration.[71]

2. Domestic Legislation

a. Law No. 69-4 of 1969

Law No. 69-4 of 1969 regulates marches, public meetings, rallies, demonstrations, and assemblies.[72] The Law grants individuals the right to conduct and organize public meetings without obtaining the government’s authorization.[73] However, individuals planning to conduct public meetings must notify the governorate or municipality where the public meeting will take place indicating the place, date, and time of the meeting. This notification must be provided three to fifteen days prior to the public meeting.[74] The notification must also specify the theme and purpose of the meeting.[75] Moreover, peaceful marches, rallies, and demonstrations are allowed with prior permission.[76]

Despite the fact that Law No. 69-4 of 1969 guarantees freedom of assembly, security authorities are required to appoint representatives to attend public meetings. Such representatives have the right to terminate the meeting if its organizers have requested termination. Additionally, security representatives have the right to terminate a meeting if there is a quarrel or violence erupts during the meeting.[77] Each public meeting must have a governing committee, comprising a minimum of three persons, to maintain public order and prevent violations of any law. The governing committee has the power to prohibit speeches during public meetings that are capable of disturbing public security and good morals or inciting the audience to commit unlawful acts.[78]

The municipality or the governorate may refuse to authorize public meetings that will violate national security or disturb public order.[79] Furthermore, public meetings must not take place in the streets.[80]

Armed marches, rallies, and demonstrations are prohibited.[81] Similarly, the Law prohibits marches, rallies, and demonstrations from endangering public security or disturbing public order.[82]

Articles 23 through 31 impose on individuals violating the provisions of this Law criminal penalties ranging from one month to two years of imprisonment and the payment of a fine.

b. Order No. 50 of 1978 & Order No. 54 of 2020  

Order No. 50 of 1978 applies when the president declares a state of emergency[83] and imposes restrictions on freedom of assembly. The Order grants power to the Minister of Interior (homeland security) to close any location where public meetings take place during a state of emergency. Likewise, the Minister has the power to ban any meetings deemed a violation of public order.[84] Violators are punishable with a term of imprisonment of six months to two years, a fine of 2,500 Tunisian dinars (about US$910), or both.[85]

Presidential Order No. 54 of 2020 extends the declaration of the current COVID-19-related state of emergency in Tunisia for six months, from May 30, 2020, through November 30, 2020.[86] The emergency was first declared in April 2020.[87]

E. Right to Privacy and Protection of Personal Data

1. Constitutional Provisions

The rights to privacy and the protection of one’s personal data are protected by the same constitutional provision, article 24 of the Tunisian Constitution of 2014. The Constitution provides that the state must protect the right to privacy and personal information, and the privacy of a person’s residence.[88]

2. Domestic Legislation

a. Law No. 63 of 2004

Law No. 63 of 2004 provides that all Tunisian citizens have the right to privacy and the protection of their personal data.[89] The Law asserts that the processing of personal data must respect the right to privacy and preserve human dignity.[90]

The Law defines the term “personal data” as any private personal data that identifies the data owner.[91] Such identification could be through revealing information related to the physical, physiological, genetic, psychological, social, economic, or cultural characteristics of a person.[92] Moreover, the Law defines the term “processing of personal data” as obtaining, recording, storing, organizing, altering, using, distributing, disseminating, or destroying personal data.[93]

The Law requires that any processing of personal data must follow the principles of privacy and public freedoms. The Law also prohibits any attempt to infringe on the right to privacy of individuals by causing harm to their reputation.[94] The entity collecting and processing personal data must exclusively collect such data for a lawful and clear purpose.[95]

The Law creates a government body known as the National Authority for Protection of Personal Data,[96] which must approve the processing of any type of personal data.[97] The Law prohibits any type of processing of personal data that reveals, directly or indirectly, the racial and genetic origins or the religious, political, or philosophical beliefs of a person without the National Authority’s permission.[98]

The Law requires the permission of the National Authority for Protection of Personal Data for the use of video surveillance.[99] The use of video surveillance equipment must be restricted to public entrances; car parking facilities, train stations, other public transportation stations, seaports, airports; and places of collective work such as factories and warehouses. A public sign must be posted to inform individuals about the presence of video surveillance.[100]

The Law requires any individual and legal entity who directly or indirectly carries out the processing of personal data to ensure the safety of the data and prevent any third party from changing, modifying, or erasing it without prior authorization of the person who owns the data.[101] The processing of personal data of a minor must be carried out with the consent of his/her guardian or after obtaining authorization from the juvenile and family court judge.[102]

Individuals who carry out personal data processing must be Tunisian citizen, reside in Tunisia, and have no criminal record.[103]

Finally, articles 86 through 100 of the Law impose an array of criminal punishments ranging from a term of imprisonment of one month to two years to paying a fine of 1,000 and 100,000 Tunisian dinars against individuals violating the provisions of this law.

The processing of personal data may carried out without the consent of the person who owns it under the following circumstances:

  • Processing is being carried out to achieve the best interests of the data owner
  • The person who owns the data cannot be contacted
  • The entity carrying out the processing would have to go through exhaustive efforts in order to obtain the consent of the data owner
  • A law or contract signed by the data owner allows the processing of his/her personal data[104]

Personal data related to the health sector may be processed without the authorization of the person who owns the data in the following circumstances:

  • Data processing is required by law
  • Data processing is necessary for the development and protection of public health
  • Data processing is required to monitor the health condition of the person who owns the data for the purpose of medical treatment[105]

The Law prohibits sharing video recordings collected for surveillance purposes, except where the person under surveillance (or his/her guardian in the case of a minor) has given consent; the public authorities conducting surveillance need to share such recordings in order to complete their mission; or sharing the video recordings is important in the investigation, discovery, and prosecution of criminal offenses.[106]

b. Code of Criminal Procedures

The Code of Criminal Procedures guarantees the privacy of a person’s home. It prohibits law enforcement officers from conducting house searches before six o’clock in the morning and after eight o’clock at night.[107] However, it allows law enforcement officers to conduct a house search at any time without the permission of the owner of the house when it is necessary to enter the house to arrest an accused person or an escaped prisoner, or when a crime is in progress.[108]

c. Decree No. 4506 of 2013

Under Decree No. 4506 of 2013 the Technical Authority for Telecommunication is affiliated with the Ministry of Communication.[109] One of the Authority’s main objectives is to carry out communications surveillance operations based on the request of prosecution to collect data that may later serve as evidence before the criminal courts.[110]

The Technical Authority of Telecommunication must receive permission from the judicial authority in order to begin the surveillance operations on private communications.[111] 

d. Decree No. 5 of 2018

Decree No. 5 of 2018 on the conditions controlling the installation of video surveillance equipment was issued on September 5, 2018, by the National Authority for Protection of Personal Data.[112] It regulates the circumstances under which ordinary individuals may install video surveillance equipment.[113] The Decree prohibits the installation of any type of video surveillance equipment in any way that harms the right to privacy of Tunisian citizens.[114] Every person who is subject to video surveillance has the right to request the recordings collected by the surveillance.[115]

If an owner of a condominium in an apartment building wants to install video surveillance equipment, he/she must obtain the permission of the homeowner’s association before installing such equipment. Surveillance equipment cannot cover the entrances and windows of other apartments.[116]

Video surveillance equipment cannot be installed inside classrooms, dining rooms, bathrooms, and changing rooms of schools and child daycare centers.[117] Likewise, in workplaces, video surveillance cannot be installed in locations designated for eating, resting, or changing clothes; bathrooms; individual offices; or spaces where union meetings are held.[118] Finally, video surveillance cameras cannot be installed in patients’ rooms and exam rooms in health clinics and hospitals.[119]

e. Law No. 61 of 2016

Law No. 61 of 2016 punishes any person who intentionally intercepts personal communications and correspondence or carries out audiovisual surveillance without obtaining judicial permission with a term of imprisonment of five years and a fine of 5,000 dinars.[120]

F. Right to Open and Neutral Internet

1. Background

The infrastructure of the communications network, allowing affordable access to the internet, is expanding outside major Tunisian cities. The government has some control over internet companies through its ownership of stocks in the country’s major tech companies.[121] Blocking social media websites is uncommon in Tunisia. Social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are freely accessible.[122]

2. Domestic Legislation: Decree No. 4773 of 2014  

Decree No. 4773 of 2014, issued by the Prime Minister on December 26, 2014, regulates the conditions and procedures for granting authorization to supply internet services.[123] The Decree requires internet service providers to obtain prior authorization from the Minister of Communication before providing any type of internet services to the public.[124]

The providers of internet services must use the infrastructure and location of interconnection links, and the telecommunications public utility networks offered and approved by the National Telecommunications Authority.[125] Internet providers must also

  • provide the Ministry of Telecommunications and the National Telecommunications Authority with all information related to the technical, operational, and financial resources that it uses to offer internet services;
  • provide to the National Telecommunications Authority a copy of the service contract signed by the clients of such service provider;
  • adhere to all requirements imposed by government bodies related to the national defense, security, and public safety; and
  • adhere to all international conventions ratified by the Tunisian state.[126]

A provider of internet services must be committed to offering internet access to all and must assist its customers to easily access all the types of internet service that it offers.[127] It must adopt necessary measures to ensure the neutrality of its services[128] and protect, secure, and maintain the confidentiality of the personal data of its clients.[129] It must also ensure secure web browsing for children on the internet.[130]

Finally, a provider of internet services is required to guarantee the continuity of services offered to its customers by using all necessary technical tools and software. The internet services it offers must be of a good quality.[131]

G. Anti-Discrimination and Gender Equality

1. Constitutional Provisions

The 2014 Tunisian Constitution protects and guarantees the principle of equality among citizens and between genders. It stipulates that all citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination.[132]

2. Domestic Legislation

a. Law on Inheritance

Arab countries such as Tunisia apply Islamic law rules to inheritance matters. Verse 11 of Surat An-Nisaa of the Qur’an states that a woman’s share of an inheritance is half that of a man. The cabinet of Tunisia approved a bill on November 22, 2019, which, for the first time in the nation’s history, would require that male and female heirs receive equal inheritance shares. If enacted, Tunisia would be the first among the Arab countries to adopt such a law. The cabinet has referred the bill to the Tunisian Parliament for debate and voting;[133] it has not yet become law.[134]

b. Law on Citizenship

Law No. 55 of 2010 on Citizenship provides Tunisian mothers with equal treatment regarding their children’s acquisition of Tunisia citizenship. Under the Law, similar to a child born to a Tunisian father of a foreign wife, a child born to a Tunisian mother of a foreign husband is considered a Tunisian citizen as well.[135]

c. Law No. 32 of 2007

Law No. 32 of 2007 treats males and females equally by providing the same minimum age of marriage for both genders. Both males and females must be 18 to marry.[136]

d. Family Law No. 70 of 1958

Qur’anic verse 4:4 of Surat al-Nsa allows Muslim males to marry up to four wives simultaneously.[137] However, Tunisian family law treats both females and males equally by banning polygamy, making it a crime punishable by one year of imprisonment when a man marries a second wife while still married to his first wife.[138]

e. Law No. 50 of 2018 on Combating All Forms of Racial Discrimination

Law No. 50 of 2018 defines racial discrimination as any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, ancestry, or other discrimination that leads to the obstruction or prevention to exercise basic freedoms and rights.[139]

The Law punishes anyone who commits an act constituting racial discrimination or makes a racist statement, with a term of imprisonment between one month and one year or a fine of 500 to 1,000 Tunisian dinars.[140] The Law also punishes whoever incites others to hate, commit acts of violence, or discriminate against specific individuals or groups with a term of imprisonment of three years and a fine of 1,000 to 5,000 Tunisian dinars.[141] 

Finally, the Law creates “the National Committee to Combat Discrimination”.[142] The Committee publishes an annual report on combating racial discrimination. It will submit its report to the parliament on an annual basis.[143]

Back to Top

Prepared by George Sadek
Foreign Law Specialist
October 2020


[1] International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171. 

[2] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 32, https://perma.cc/A5YX-UHG3 (in Arabic). 

[3] Law No. 41 of 2011, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 039, 31 May 2011, https://perma.cc/9W8T-TFMZ (in Arabic).

[4] Id. art. 1.

[5] Id. arts. 3 & 7.

[6] Id. art. 4.

[7] Id. art. 8.

[8] Id. art. 16.

[9] Id. art. 17.

[10] Law No. 22 of 2016, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 26, 29 Mar. 2016, https://perma.cc/ME9H-45ZH (in Arabic).

[11] Id. art. 6.

[12] Id. art. 10.

[13] Id. art. 14.

[14] Id. art. 14, para 3.

[15] Id. art. 29.

[16] Id. art. 23.

[17] Id. art. 24.

[18] Id. art. 25.

[19] Id. art. 26.

[20] Id. art. 37.

[21] Id. art. 38.

[22] Id. art. 40.

[23] Id. art. 41.

[24] Id. art. 56.

[25] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 31. 

[26] Id. art. 42.

[27] Law No. 115 of 2011, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 84, 4 Nov. 2018, https://perma.cc/CR9R-HP2C (in Arabic).

[28] Id. art. 1, para. 2.

[29] Id. art. 1, para. 1.

[30] Id. art. 7.

[31] Id. art. 11.

[32] Id. art. 15.

[33] Id. art. 18.

[34] Id. art. 23.

[35] Id. art. 39.

[36] Id. art. 51.

[37] Id. art. 52.

[38] Id. art. 54.

[39] Id. art. 55.

[40] Id. art. 56.

[41] Id. art. 60.

[42] Id. art. 61.

[43] Penal Code of 1913, as amended, art. 128, https://perma.cc/CU3N-QMCP (in Arabic).

[44] Human Rights Watch, World Reports of 2019: Tunisia, https://perma.cc/3DJV-W4BC.

[45] Penal Code of 1913, as amended by Law No. 43 of 2001, art. 121(3), Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 36, 4 May 2001, https://perma.cc/93ZM-JD6A (in Arabic).

[46] Tunisia: Attack on Freedom of Expression Must End, Amnesty International (Feb. 2, 2018), https://perma.cc/K2JX-83TX

[47] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 35.

[48] Decree Law No. 88 of 2011, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 74, 30 Sept. 2011, https://perma.cc/GS7T-SQCY (in Arabic).

[49] Id. art. 1.

[50] Id. art. 2.

[51] Id. art. 3.

[52] Id. art. 4.

[53] Id. art. 5.

[54] Id. art. 6.

[55] Id. art. 7.

[56] Id. art. 8.

[57] Id. art. 8(2).

[58] Id. art. 10(1).

[59] Id. art. 10(2).

[60] Id. art. 10(2)(a).

[61] Id. art. 10(2)(b).

[62] Id. art. 10(C).

[63] Id. art. 17(2).

[64] Id. art. 20.

[65] Id. art. 21(7).

[66] Id. art. 41.

[67] Id. art. 45(3)

[68] Law No. 52 of 2018, art. 7(7), Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 89, 6 Nov. 2018, https://perma.cc/D73F-X7V8 (in Arabic).

[69] Id. art. 20(3).

[70] Id. art. 53, para. 2.

[71] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 37.

[72] Law No. 69-4 of 1969, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 28, 31 June 1969, https://perma.cc/ZZP4-AKQH (in Arabic).

[73] Id. art. 1.

[74] Id. art. 2.

[75] Id. art. 3.

[76] Id. art. 9.

[77] Id. art. 6.

[78] Id. art. 5.

[79] Id. art. 7.

[80] Id. art. 8.

[81] Id. art. 11.

[82] Id. art. 12.

[83] Order No. 50 of 1978, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 7, 24 Jan. 1978, https://perma.cc/PD6L-LX4H (in Arabic).

[84] Id. art. 7.

[85] Id. art. 8.

[86] Order No. 54 of 2020, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 54, 29 May 2020, https://perma.cc/LU9Z-VRGP (in Arabic).

[87] Id.

[88] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 24.

[89] Law No. 63 of 2004, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 061, 30 July 2004, https://perma.cc/52HG-PRMF (in Arabic).

[90] Id. art. 1.

[91] Id. art. 4.

[92] Id. art. 5.

[93] Id. art. 6.

[94] Id. art. 9.

[95] Id. art. 10.

[96] Id. art. 75.

[97] Id. art. 7.

[98] Id. art. 15.

[99] Id. art. 69.

[100] Id. art. 70.

[101] Id. art. 18.

[102] Id. art. 28.

[103] Id. art. 22.

[104] Law No. 63 of 2004, art. 29.

[105] Id. art. 62.

[106] Id. art. 73.

[107] Law No. 23 of 1968 on Code of Criminal Procedures, as amended, art. 95, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 31, 24 July 1968, https://perma.cc/4NJK-WR8D (in Arabic).

[108] Id. art. 95.

[109] Decree No. 4506 of 2013, art. 1, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 090, 12 Nov. 2013, https://perma.cc/XFG9-VW45 (in Arabic).

[110] Id. art. 2.

[111] Id. art. 6, para 2.

[112] Decree No. 5 of 2018, issued on September 5, 2018, National Authority for Protection of Personal Data, https://perma.cc/W8RA-9VPT (in Arabic). 

[113] Id., intro.

[114] Id. art. 4.

[115] Id. art. 23.

[116] Id. art. 6.

[117] Id. art. 7.

[118] Id. art. 8.

[119] Id. art. 10.

[120] Law No. 61 of 2016, art. 42, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 66, 12 Aug. 2016, https://perma.cc/HFG9-2KUH (in Arabic).

[121] Freedom on the Net 2019: Tunisia, Freedom House, https://perma.cc/6B2R-6R2H.  

[122] Id.

[123] Decree No. 4773 of 2014, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 07, 23 June 2015, https://perma.cc/C98L-S9PH (in Arabic).

[124] Id. art. 2, para 2.

[125] Id. art. 9.

[126] Id. art. 11.

[127] Id. art. 13.

[128] Id. art. 14(1).

[129] Id. art. 14(3).

[130] Id. art. 14(11).

[131] Id. art. 15.

[132] Tunisia Const. of 2014, art. 21.

[133] Tunisia Becomes the First Arab Nation to Approve Gender Equality in Inheritance Law, DhakaTribune (Nov. 25, 2018), https://perma.cc/U7RW-EB83.

[134] Tunisia: New Parliament’s Rights Priorities, Hum. Rts. Watch (Nov. 13, 2019), https://perma.cc/R7LA-H7EX (in Arabic).

[135] Law No. 33 of 2010, art. 6 , Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 097, 3 Dec. 2010, https://perma.cc/ZG8A-AXHF (in Arabic).

[136] Law No. 32 of 2007, art. 5, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 042, 14 May 2007, https://perma.cc/5P73-KPD8 (in Arabic).

[137]  Qur’anic verse 4:4, https://perma.cc/GE7B-LZ8U.

[138] Law No. 70 of 1958, art. 18, issued July 4, 1958, https://perma.cc/A7YZ-76RH (in Arabic). 

[139] Law No. 50 of 2018, art. 2, Al-Jaridah Al-Rasmiyah, vol. 86, 26 Oct. 2018, https://perma.cc/PPF3-4RZV (in Arabic).

[140] Id, art. 8.

[141] Id, art. 9.

[142] Id, art. 11.

[143] Id, art. 11, para. 2.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020