26 October 2015
Various members of civil society have received with deep disapproval the submission of a draft of the procedures organizing the access of civil society organizations to the People Assembly that leads to ban civil society from monitoring the Assembly’s work, specifically the work of the committees. After the review of the said document submitted to the Bureau of the Assembly by the assessor in charge of relations with citizens and civil society, the undersigned organization wish to clarify the following :
-Strongly denounce and condemn attempts infringing the right of access to information and see it as a step towards to consecration of the opacity of the Assembly work and deliberations.
-Call MPs and political parties, whether represented in the Assembly or not, to stand against such practices given that this vested right cannot be subject to discussion, negotiation, or limitation and warn that they will not, in any case, waive their right to monitor the work of the Assembly.
-Consider that this intentional ban is a negative message sent to the citizen and a denial of campaign promises regarding the consecration of transparency and good governance.
-Consider that logistical and procedural obstacles cannot stand against this right and that the administration of the Assembly must meet its obligations towards the Tunisian citizen through the work of Tunisian organizations.
-Warn the parliamentary blocs of consequences to undermining the Tunisian constitution which guarantees the right of access to information, and the breach of the assembly’s internal rules that guarantee the public nature of the plenary sessions and the committees’ meetings.
Civil society organizations consider that this ban is aimed towards depriving the citizen from his most basic political rights, translated by the monitoring of the Representatives of the People Assembly work, which in itself is an infringement to rights guaranteed by the Constitution, whose provisions must be complied with by MPs according to the oath they took, and is a denial of their responsibility towards electors.
They insist on the fact that this decision is not made under legally valid arguments, given that it harbors serious violations to the constitution, specifically articles 31 and 32. Indeed, article 31 provides for a series of freedoms, including the freedom of expression, the freedom of information and the freedom of publication, moreover, it states that it is not possible to make a prior control on these freedoms. As for article 32, it guarantees the right to information as well as the right of access to information.
This decision infringes on the participation tenet upon which the Second Republic was founded, as illustrated by Paragraph 4 of the Preamble of the Constitution.
Moreover, the Decree-Law on associations provides in its articles 5 and 6 for the association’s right to information, to assess State institutions, to submit proposals in order to improve their performances, to publish reports and information as well as to edit publications, and conduct surveys. Furthermore, public authorities are not allowed to hinder the activity of associations, or to obstruct it directly or indirectly.
Lastly, Articles 76 and 103 of the Internal Rules of the Assembly of People’s Representatives clearly stipulate the public nature of the committees’ and plenary sessions’ activities. This means that this work is open to all citizens, civil society, and the media.
Therefore, a ban on civil society’s ability to follow the work of the Assembly of People’s Representatives as was proposed within the document subject to review by the Bureau of the assembly contradicts all aforementioned legal texts on transparence and accountability.
Civil society insists that the Assembly of People’s Representatives acknowledges the public nature of the plenary sessions and committees’ activities, and establishes clear, transparent and fair procedures consecrating the right of civil society to conduct their activities.
-Association de Défense Des Libertés Individuelles
-Association Tunisienne des Femmes Démocrates
-Le Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l’Homme en Tunisie
-La Coordination Nationale Indépendante pour la Justice Transitionnelle
-Le Forum Tunisien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux
-La Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme
-Le Réseau Tunisien pour la Justice Transitionnelle