(Tunis) – More than 90 organizations and civil society groups in Tunisia on July 24, 2018 issued a Pact for Equality and Individual Freedoms, outlining the fundamental rights that all Tunisians should enjoy. This pact is being issued to confirm a commitment to a civilian and democratic Tunisian Republic in the wake of the publication of the report of the presidentially appointed Commission for Individual Freedoms and Equality on June 12.

Logo of the Covenant for individual Rights and Freedoms. © 2018 Coalition for Individual Rights and Freedoms.

© 2018 Coalition for Individual Rights and Freedoms

The commissions’ proposals aim to place human rights at the heart of the Tunisian justice system and to get rid of laws that governments had long used as tools of repression. The signatories outline 10 points based on the commission's main recommendations and call on the authorities to integrate them into legislation as soon as possible. An event to mark the adherence to the pact will be held at 5 p.m. on July 24 in the Omar Khlifi room of the Cité de la Culture.

“Tunisia is at an important turning point in its history,” said Yosra Frawes, president of the Tunisian Association of Women Democrats. “Its recent gains in the field of democracy will remain very fragile unless the foundation of individual freedoms and equality among all Tunisian citizens is strengthened.”

President Beji Caid Essebsi created the commission for Individual Freedoms and Equality on August 13, 2017, National Women’s Day. He tasked it with recommending reforms “relating to individual freedoms and equality, which stem from the provisions of the constitution of January 27, 2014, international human rights standards, and current trends in the area of freedoms and equality.” The chair of the nine-member commission is Bochra Bel Haj Hmida, a member of parliament.

In its report, the commission recommends decriminalizing sodomy, guaranteeing equal inheritance rights for men and women, revoking laws based on “morality,” and abolishing the death penalty, among other actions.

“Today it is the responsibility of all political actors, including the president of the republic and parties represented in Parliament, to set everything in motion to turn into law the recommendations and principles contained in the commission's report and reiterated in this pact,” said Nessryne Jelali, president of Al Bawsala [The Compass].

Based on the principles of freedom, equality and dignity, the pact also calls for the abolition of the death penalty, as well as of all forms of discrimination, regardless of the justification or alleged basis.

“Human rights have long been obscured in the Tunisian justice system, which preferred to sanction authoritarianism and the dominance of uniformity of thought in the political and societal fields over respect for individual liberty,” said Dimitris Christopoulos, president of International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

The pact calls for strengthening efforts to end torture and all other forms of violations of human dignity, as well to respect sexual freedom and gender orientation, inherent in fundamental human rights. It makes the presumption of innocence and the guarantee of access to a fair trial, as well as a prohibition on arbitrary arrests, central elements of the rule of law.

“Tunisians have rejected many forms of oppression since the revolution, but now needs a real legislative revolution to set out that individual Tunisians, as creators of values, standards, and wealth for themselves and for the community, should be protected from arbitrary interference by the state or other parties,” said Amna Guellali, Human Rights Watch director in Tunisia.

The right to privacy, freedom of conscience and thought, freedom of expression, and academic and artistic freedoms are also considered fundamental rights and represent pillars of a democratic, creative, and pluralist society.

“Tunisia’s history has been marked by progressive laws, such as the 1956 Code on Personal Status and the 2014 Constitution. Today, the logical next step to complete this trajectory would be to adopt the Code for Individual Freedoms and the Code for Equality as recommended by the Commission,” said Jinan Limam, president of the Tunisian Association for Individual Freedoms.

The Signatory associations and organizations:

  1. Tunisian Coalition Against Death Penalty
  2. Tunisian Association of Democratic Women
  3. Tunisian Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties
  4. Tunisian Association for the Defense of University Values
  5. Tunisian Association for the Defense of Child’s Rights
  6. Tunisian Association for the Fight against Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS, Tunis
  7. Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights
  8. Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights
  9. National Union of Tunisian Journalists
  10. Al Bawsala Association
  11. Street Art Association
  12. Tunisian Women's Association for Development Research
  13. Beity Association
  14. Tahadi Association
  15. Shams Association
  16. Together Association
  17. Dissonances Association
  18. Vigilance Association for Democracy and Civil State
  19. Damj - Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality
  20. League of Tunisian Female Voters
  21. Mawjoudin Initiative for Equality
  22. Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center
  23. Africa Women’s Forum
  24. EUROMED Rights
  25. International Federation for Human Rights
  26. “Let’s be active” Programme
  27. Heinrich Böll Foundation
  28. OXFAM
  29. Lawyers without borders
  30. Human Rights Watch
  31. Legal Agenda
  32. Women and Citizenship Association - El Kef
  33. Tunisia land of humans Association
  34. Tunisian Federation for Citizenship of both Shores
  35. Association of development and bordering of youth and childhood – Jendouba
  36. Soumoud Civil Collective
  37. Sounbola Association
  38. Equality & Parity Association
  39. Hyphenation Association
  40. Tunisian Association for Minority Support
  41. Joussour Association for Citizenship – El Kef
  42. Association of school creativity
  43. Citizenship and Liberties Association
  44. Mouwatinet Association
  45. Association for the promotion of the Right to Difference
  46. Citizens in Solidarity Association
  47. Observatory for the defense of the right to difference
  48. Tawhida Ben Cheikh Group for Research & Action in Women's Health
  49. Tunisia Culture and Solidarity Association – Paris
  50. World Organization Against Torture
  51. Byالحوم Association
  52. Tunis Center for Press Freedom
  53. Tunisian Association for Electoral Integrity and Democracy
  54. Coalition for Women of Tunisia
  55. Enda Inter-Arab
  56. Tunisian Association of Positive Prevention
  57. Tunisian Association of Reproductive Health
  58. Free Sight Association
  59. Manifesto of Culture Association
  60. Chouf Minorities
  61. Al-Sajine 52 Initiative
  62. Amnesty International – Tunisia Section
  63. Al Kahina Association for Culture and Development
  64. CALAM Association
  65. Psychologues du Monde Organization
  66. Path of Dignity Association
  67. Tigar Association for Joint Citizenship
  68. Rural Women Association – Jendouba
  69. Horra Organization
  70. Waai Association
  71. Unies-vers-elles Association
  72. Magida Boulila Association for Modernity – Sfax
  73. Aswat Nissa Association
  74. Fanni Raghman Anni Association
  75. International Council of Women Entrepreneurs
  76. Tunisian Council of Secularism
  77. Jamaity Association
  78. Lam Echaml Association
  79. Manifesto for Development and Citizenship Association – Beja
  80. M’nemty Association
  81. Tunisian Organization for Social Justice and Solidarity
  82. Doustouna Network
  83. Y-Peer Tunisia
  84. Woman and Leadership Association
  85. Rural Women Association
  86. Frida Association
  87. Education and Family Organization
  88. Association for the Development of Education and Family
  89. Nima Association for Development and Democracy
  90. People’s Voice Association
  91. Al-Naoura Association
  92. Zmorda Space
  93. Friends of Literature, Arts and Sciences Association