Individual Freedoms And Equality Committee
Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee « Colibe »
Presented by: Afek Tounes
Mouhamed Ali Mankai
Our country Tunisia is known by its open-mindedness all over the world. In January 1846, Tunisia became the first Arab and Muslim country to abolish slavery. Tunisia has also long been hailed for leading the Arab world in terms of women’s rights. It became the first Arab country to formally abolish polygamy in 1956, the same year it gained official independence.
Thus, it’s not a surprise that Tunisia, now after the 2011 revolution and the establishment of the new constitution of 2014 to pass this report.
The Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee includes proposals and recommendations on the application of the principles of freedom and equality in the national legal system.
The Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee is a commission created by the president of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi in August 13th , 2017. The committee’s main job is preparing a report on legislative reforms concerning individual freedoms and equality in accordance with the constitution of 2014 and international human rights standards.
The Right to life - Death Penalty:
- Either the total abolition of the death penalty; the Constitution does not prohibit this as it refers the determination of punishments for the exceptional cases to laws. (the Committee's proposal).
- Or the preservation of the death penalty with the definition of the exceptional cases as the cases resulting in death (these are punishments which cannot be mitigated); with the codification of the suspensive effect.
The Right to Human Dignity and Physical Integrity Torture:
- Reviewing the legislative definition (decree 106 dated October 22nd, 2011) to conform to the international definition:
- Enlarging/expanding the motivation: recognition, sentencing, intimidation, or others.
- Expanding the definition to include torture committed by non civil -servants and assimilated.
The Right to Safety and Freedom
- Criminalizing the destruction of the presumption of innocence.
- Arrest and detention: indicating the date of the beginning of the detention and organizing the right to appeal the detention decision.
- A recommendation to review arrest and detention in the Forces of Internal Security and the national Army disciplinary Codes.
- Emergency state: a recommendation to review the organization of the emergency state.
Freedom of Thought, Belief, and Conscience
Criminalizing the Violation of the Sacred
- Criminalizing the vilification of all religions in their beliefs, symbols, rituals, premises, or sites in the purpose of the incitement of violence, hatred and all kinds of discrimination.
The Right to Life Criminalizing Calls and incitements to Suicide
- Criminalizing these kind of calls especially when it is involving children or people suffering from emotional fragility.
The Right to Human Dignity and physical Integrity
- Adopting the necessity of the informed consent of the individual on all medical and scientific practices using the body.
- Prohibiting/Preventing anal/rectal examination meant to prove sexual orientations.
- Adopting the individual’s right to accept or refuse all kinds of medical treatments.
The Right to Security and Freedom
- Fulfilling legal security, reviewing a plethora of laws to consolidate the principle of the legality of offences and penalties. In this area, the committee suggested the refinement of the definitions of many types of crimes and the change of other crimes like the ones related to good morals, or to indecent exposure and their substitution with more accurate crimes like: insulting/swearing, engaging in a sexual act, or exposing intimate body parts with the intention of harming other people.
The Right to Security and Freedom
- The committee has also adopted a general approach, in accordance with the principle of freedom, with respect to punishments. It suggested the replacement of the custodial sentences, which were not associated with serious crimes harming others with pecuniary sanctions which vary according to the seriousness of the committed crimes.
Freedom of Thought, Belief, and Conscience Discrimination Based on Religion
- Finding legislative guaranties to enforce respect for this right without discrimination between the different religions and beliefs.
- Reviewing all the articles which make distinctions on the basis of religion and beliefs between Tunisians. The most important of these articles are those related to transactions in the Code of Obligations and Contracts.
Freedom of Thought, Belief, and Conscience - Criminalizing Takfir
- Criminalizing any allegations « on a person or a group of persons as to their belonging to a particular religion or not; their beliefs in it, their compliance with its rules or not; their compliance with its rites or not with the intent to abuse them or to incite intolerance, hatred, violence or discrimination regardless of it causes, whatever the cause.
- Recommendation to abolish all the circulars violating freedom of conscience.
Freedom of Opinion and Expression
- Approving all the texts which have been adopted in support of freedom of speech.
- Adopting the necessity of including calls to violence and hatred as limits to freedom of expression for their role in threatening the other rights of individuals as well as the social peace.
Protection of Private Life
- Suggesting the definition of private life with regard to its components.
- Protecting private life in judicial proceedings.
- Prohibiting /preventing the interference of associations in the affairs of others ( article 14 of the decree).
Protection of Private Life
- Amending the 2004 law on the protection of personal information data in a way which complies with the international commitments of the Tunisian Republic.
- Criminalizing assaults on personal life and intrusions in the personal life, the confidentiality of correspondence and communications.
Freedom of Movement and Residence
- Freedom of entry to or exit from Tunisia.
- Freedom to choose the place of residence.
- Freedom of movement.
Freedom of Arts
- Prohibiting and criminalizing the impediment of the freedom of arts and attacks against freedom of arts.
- Freedom of artistic performances and non-discrimination in them.
- Banning attacks against freedom of science and research as well as its restriction and annulment.
- Adopting honesty, integrity, and scientific rigors as the unique criterion for evaluating sciences and research.
Tunisia is considered a pioneer in women’s rights across the Arab world. Since August 13th, 1956, Tunisian women have gained a lot of rights and liberties that they, unfortunately, don’t have in the MENA region. However, women are still bound by discriminatory laws that limit their privileges. The committee worked on this issue and came up with these points that address it:
- Abolishing discrimination in Tunisian law
- Abolishing discrimination in the case of a Tunisian woman marrying a foreigner
- Abolishing discrimination in the requirement of marriage
- Abolishing discrimination in conjugal duties
- Abolishing discrimination in fiscal law
- Abolishing discrimination between children
Abolishing discrimination in relations with children in heritage:
- No matter the circumstances, girls now get half of the heritage from their parents, not the third that they used to get before, when Tunisia followed the verse in the Quran: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females” (Surah An-Nisa, 11)
- There is no difference between male and female grandchildren; both take an equal portion of the heritage.
- Mothers get an equal portion as the father.
- Married partners: both husband/wife take half of the heritage if he/she don’t have a child together. If they do have a child, he/she takes a fourth of the heritage. He/she also has the authority to stay in the house for the rest of his/her life if he/she has a child or has been married for more than four years. However, this is null if he/she remarries.
Tunisia has been the leading country in individual rights and freedoms in the MENA region since its formation. We hope, with the passing of COLIBE, that we will succeed in ushering the other countries into giving minorities their rightful freedoms and granting them the chance to comfortably live their lives without fear of wrongful prosecution by the law, while also having the same rights and liberties as every other “normal” person and being protected from any discrimination they may face.