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13.01.2014 - Communication & Information Sector

UNESCO welcomes new constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of information in Tunisia

Tunisian National Constituent Assembly, 6 January 2014. © UNESCO/Mehdi Benchelah

UNESCO welcomes the vote by the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly (NCA) of several articles of the new Constitution on fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of information.

On 6 January 2014, NCA adopted Article 30 that guarantees freedom of expression (173 in favour, 9 abstentions, 0 against) and Article 31 that guarantees freedom of information (170 in favour, 4 abstentions, 2 against). On 9 January 2014, NCA adopted Article 48 which restricts the limits that can be placed on fundamental freedoms to the principles of proportionality and necessity (164 in favour, 5 abstentions, 6 against).

The vote on these articles marks the end of almost two years of advocacy and awareness-raising efforts by Tunisian civil society, freedom of expression defenders and international partners. The articles, as drafted in their final form, follow UNESCO’s recommendations and enable to establish a legal framework in Tunisia that complies with international norms on fundamental freedoms.

The articles were voted in by over a two-thirds majority, which demonstrates the extent of the consensus of the NCA representatives on this matter. By adopting the articles, the representatives send a strong message in favour of freedom of expression and freedom of information in Tunisia and in the rest of the Arab region.

Articles 30, 31 and 48 of the new Constitution (unofficial translation)

Article 30

The freedoms of opinion, thought, expression, information and publication shall be guaranteed.

These freedoms shall not be subject to ex-ante control.

Article 31

The State shall guarantee the right to information and the right of access to information.

Article 48

The law determines the limits and their application on rights and freedoms guaranteed under this Constitution, without interfering with their essence. The limits shall only be used where deemed necessary by a democratic and civil State and only in order to protect the rights of other, for reasons of public security, national defence, or to protect public health or public morals. The principle of proportionality with its limits and justifications shall be respected. The court system shall ensure that the rights and freedoms are protected from infringements. No amendment shall affect the human rights and freedoms under this Constitution.

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