Tunisia’s new counterterrorism law may curb freedoms
Tunisia’s significant human rights challenges remain seven years after its uprising, says Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
His statement Thursday comes after a 10-day visit to assess progress and the impact of new legislation that, while intended to fight terrorism and money laundering, may harm citizens’ rights.
The National Registry for Enterprises would limit activities for many key civil society organizations, and Voule appealed for exemptions in appropriate cases. His appeal was ignored as the bill – one that he labeled regressive – was adopted Tuesday, reportedly without further debate, according to the UN.
“Tunisia is at a turning point in its post-revolution history,” Voule said. There’s evidence that reforms are opening the democratic space in the North African nation, but concern over stalled progress.
Among them are delays in putting in place some of the institutions established by the 2014 constitution, such as the constitutional court, the new court of auditors and an institution to safeguard human rights.
“Without these institutions, the democratic transition, of which the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential pillars, cannot be ensured and might be undermined,” he said. “I truly hope that the democratic transition will be irreversible and lead to a fair and democratic society.”
Voule also expressed concerns about reports of arbitrary arrests and disproportionate use of force during protests against the finance law and austerity measures last January.
Image: APR Tunisia file