Human Rights Watch says Tunisia’s draft constitution needs improvement. Now there’s a surprise.
The shortcomings in human rights protections largely concern the status of international human rights conventions ratified by Tunisia, freedom of expression, freedom of thought and belief, equality between men and women, and non-discrimination, Human Rights found in an analysis of the proposals.
Quite a few things, in other words. Quite important things.
Article 3 threatens freedom of expression by stipulating that, “The state guarantees freedom of belief and religious practice and criminalizes all attacks on the sacred.” This provision, which defines neither what is “sacred” nor what constitutes an “attack” on it, opens the door to laws that criminalize speech, Human Rights Watch said.
Anything for a quiet life, eh? But what if someone comes along who has a different idea of what “the sacred” is? Don’t ask.
Other provisions that cause concern are:
- Article 3, which says that, “The state guarantees freedom of belief and religious practice,” but omits wording that would affirm freedoms of thought and of conscience, including the right to replace one’s religion with another or to embrace atheism. Human rights would be best protected by an explicit guarantee in the constitution of a right to change one’s religion or to have no religion, Human Rights Watch said.
- Article 28 on women’s rights invokes the notion of complementarity of the roles of women and men inside the family, omitting the principle of equality between the sexes.
- Article 22, stating that, “All citizens are equal in rights and freedoms before the law, without discrimination of any kind,” is contradicted by another article that states that only a Muslim can become president of the republic.
Familiar, and repellent.