Provisions on State Secrecy and “Denigrating” Security Forces Undermine Free Speech
Tunisian legislators should drop problematic provisions from a new security bill, 13 nongovernmental organizations said in a joint statement today. Provisions of the bill that are inconsistent with international human rights standards and rights guaranteed in the Tunisian Constitution could criminalize the conduct of journalists, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, and others who criticize the police and would allow security forces to use deadly force when it is not strictly necessary to protect lives.
The government sent the bill to parliament on April 10, 2015, following the March 18 attack by gunmen that killed 23 people at the Bardo Museum in Tunis and a series of lethal attacks on the security forces by armed groups. Since the uprising that ousted President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, these attacks have also killed more than 75 members and wounded at least 190 of Tunisia’s army and other security and armed forces. The parliament has not yet set a date for debating the bill.
“The Tunisian parliament needs to ensure not only that Tunisian security forces are able to protect people from attacks, but without trampling rights in the process,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The bill’s provisions on state secrecy, denigration and the use of lethal force fail that test.”
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