Tunisia: Draft Law on the Repression of Offences against Armed Forces poses serious threat to freedom of expression

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the Draft Law on the Repression of Offences against Armed Forces would give rise to unjustifiable, disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of information. If adopted, the Law would allow indiscriminate restriction of any expression that would appear to be in some way critical of armed forces and would considerably hinder the free flow of information and the public debate on issues related to the operation of the armed forces. We recommend that the Tunisian Government withdraws the Draft Law from the submission to the Parliament. If the Draft Law were to be submitted to the Assembly of Peoples’ Representatives, we recommend that Articles 5, 6, 10, 12, 13 and 15 be removed.

Following the March 18 attacks that killed 23 people at the Bardo Museum, the Tunisian government adopted a Draft Law on the Repression of Offences against Armed Forces on April 8, 2015.

ARTICLE 19 has worked with 13 nongovernmental international organizations in Tunisia to release a joint position regarding the Draft Law.

ARTICLE 19 analysed Draft Law No. 25/2015 on the Repression of Offences against Armed Forces[1] (the Draft Law) and has serious concerns regarding its compatibility with international standards on freedom of expression and information.

As a party to international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Tunisia must ensure that any restrictions on the right to freedom of expression are strictly and narrowly construed, comply with three part test of restrictions,[2] and do not put the right itself in jeopardy.

Article 12 of the Draft Law punishes fine anyone who is “guilty of insulting the armed forced in the goal of harming public safety” with a 2-year prison sentence and a 10000 dinar fine (over 5100 USD).

Read the full analysis below.

Comments on the Draft Law on the Repression of Offences against Armed Forces.

عليق المادة 19 على مشروع قانون زجر الاعتداء على القوات المسلحة-1.

[1] ARTICLE 19’s analysis is based on unofficial French translation of the Draft Law bill provided by the Bureau de Tunis pour le Contrôle démocratiques des Forces armées – Genève (DCAF). ARTICLE 19 does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the translation or for comments made on the basis of any inaccuracies in the translation.
[2] The test stipulates that restrictions must be a) prescribed by law, b) in pursuit of a legitimate aim, and c) necessary and proportionate to the aim pursued.