The Tunisian Pact on Rights and Liberties

Press release

At the initiative of the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) and with the participation of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDH), Syndicate of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT), Tunisian National Lawyers Order (ONAT), Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD), and several human rights organizations, a Tunisian pact on Rights and Liberties was declared on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. We hope that this text would be an expression of the aspirations of our People who revoluted against dictator ship and sought to ensure the establishment of a democratic and free nation.
Signing this document is an expression of commitment to support the advocating efforts to constitutionalize these rights and liberties, to defend them against all forms of abuse, protect them and disseminate them.

Why did we sign the Tunisian Pact on Rights and Liberties?

The Revolution of Freedom and Dignity in Tunisia has opened the horizons of our peoples’ history to the possibilities of freedom, dignity, equality and justice. The intention of this revolution was to break free from the legacy of oppression, the pain of abusing human dignity, marginalization, exclusion, reduction of individual and collective liberties and the violation of the right to democratic participation and social justice.
Yet, dissevering with the system of tyranny and corruption, once and for all, is a long and arduous path, which requires establishing a system of rights and liberties. On the one hand, these rights and liberties must be constitutionalized and embedding in the legislations. On the other hand, necessary guarantees and institutions are to be established in order to achieve and activate these rights and liberties.
All these rights and liberties remain vulnerable and threatened at all times, unless they get transformed into a program of action adopted to build a democratic society that respects diversity, the right to being different, rejects violence, discrimination and exclusion.
All these rights and liberties remain at risk, if they are not converted into a common mean that would serve as a basis for a social contract and co-existence.
This Pact,
We wanted it to be a creative synthesis between what has been achieved at the universal level in the field of human rights and liberties, and the ancient civil traditions of the People of Tunisia and their cultural, religious, constitutional, legal and human rights achievements; this People that, for generations, have dreamed of a society of freedom, tolerance and equality.
This Pact,
We wanted it to be a confirmation that the protection of the rights and liberties proclaimed in it, represent a common space on which we could build our citizenship and our belonging to the people of the world who believe in freedom.
It is also a confirmation that the promotion of the rights and liberties is a national decision for us and for the generations to come. We believe that it is an approach to build a new democratic society.
This Pact,
We wanted it to be a process that would protect proclaimed liberties and rights and to put an end to the darkness of tyranny, once and for all.
We, the Parties to this Pact, by signing it, are committed to the following:
1. To be a reference of the shared values ​​that bring us together and unite us, on the basis of the principles for our constitutional, legal, economic, social, and cultural reforms and creative tools which we would be able to develop our practices and behaviours through which we would be able to liberate our cultural and educational discourses.
2. To make human rights and liberties a shared social responsibility that will be used to combat the abuse of human dignity, authoritarianism, corruption, monopoly of decision, violence, marginalization and impoverishment.
3. To work in solidarity to protect the rights of every citizen, woman and man, without any discrimination and to establish a civil dynamism that guarantees equal dignity for all Tunisians, women and men alike.

We, Women and Men of Tunisia, Agree on these rights and liberties And we are working on protecting and spreading the principles of the present Pact.

The Tunisian Pact on Rights and Liberties

We, the citizens, women and men, of Tunisia,
Realising that our country has always been full of a profound civil culture that is deeply rooted in ancient legal and constitutional traditions, civil, religious, centrist, moderate, and tolerant institutions that renounce violence, intolerance, discrimination and hatred,
A Country that abolished slavery, resisted to colonialism; a country that laid down the foundations of a leading trade union and human rights movement, that supported peoples’ rights and demands for self-determination and freedom; and whose people, over the generations, were open to the knowledge, cultures and arts of other people,
Recognizing that the People’s Revolution rose against a despotic regime that disgraced human dignity, disturbed fair development, and disrupted the values of equality, justice and freedom,
Recognizing that Tunisia, thanks to its “Revolution of Dignity,”paved the way for others in the Region to sign up for the common heritage of human freedom and enrich this legacy with principles intrinsic to the culture of tolerance that are open to human achievements in all fields of knowledge, science, literature and arts,
Recognizing that dignity, equality, freedom and justice, the principles of the Revolution, are the real foundations that must be laid down through the processes of democratic transition. These are dedicated to citizenship, liberties, pluralism and democratic participation, which must break with the past heritage of tyranny through the endorsement of principles of Rule of Law, independence of the judiciary and transitional justice,
Recognizing that the Revolution of the Tunisian People is a civil revolution and that overcame in a moment of awareness of individual and collective dignity, the regional, tribal, family, factionaly, gender distinctions.
Through the Tunisian Pact on Rights and Liberties, we underline the following:
Human rights represent a collectively shared responsibility through which the family, official institutions, political groups, civil society organizations, private sector and individuals shall work on guaranteeing them freely, far from fear and poverty. Furthermore, representing human rights would help in building social peace and understanding, achieving social justice and establishing a participatory democratic system.
Respecting human rights and the promotion of the rights of all citizens, women and men, regardless of their ethnic origin, colour, origin and social affiliations, opinions, ideas, beliefs and choices, with the emphasis on the rights of women and children, the elderly, the youth, persons with disabilities, the poor, the marginalized people in the past, present and future who should benefit from special care.
Human rights are interrelated and comprehensive, and neither indivisible nor irreversible; they shall not be singled out; they shall be on the basis of a political system and the ultimate goal of development programs and economic, social, cultural, and international cooperation policies,
The ultimate goal of human rights is to protect individual liberties, guarantee full citizenship and ensure that everyone lives in the community without exclusion or marginalization.
Believing in all these principles, we pledge to protect those rights and the dissemination of their principles,

Article 1: Right to Decent Life
Everyone has the right to decent life and to live in dignity as recognized and protected by the law that ensures the enjoyment of all its components.
This right includes the following:

The right to an identity for every human being regardless of their origins.
The right to a nationality, a legal personality and the consequent to them rights related.
The right not to be subjected to torture, or degrading, cruel, inhuman or dignity-demeaning treatment.
Torture is a crime and is not subject to prescription.
The right to refuse any medical or scientific experiment on a person without her or his free consent.
The right not to be subjected to slavery and the prohibition of slavery and human trafficking in all their forms.
Abolition of the death penalty.

Article 2: Right to Protection and Safety
Guaranteeing the right to protection and safety is a guarantee of democracy and development; freedom is the origin and its limitation is an exception required by a democratic society based on the principle of proportionality.
This right includes the following:

The right to liberty: No person shall be detained, arrested, kept in custody, be subject to arbitrary detention or exile; or deprived of his or her liberty except for reasons provided for by the law and in accordance with the relative established procedures in respect for her or his rights.
The right to safety: The safety of every person includes that of himself or herself, religion, honour, property and homeland.
The right to respect the moral, physical, and sexual integrity of citizens, women or men, and to be protected from all forms of violence against them.
The right to legal and judicial protection without discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin, sex, religion, the circumstances of birth or upbringing, language, colour, intellectual or political affiliation, class, social or legal status, or disability.
The right to a fair trial: No punishment without law, every person is presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law. This shall be provided with all the legal guarantees for a defence in front of an independent judiciary.
The right to maintain private affairs related to the home, family, finance, communication, and to the protection of personal data. No one shall spy, control or abuse the reputation of any citizen.
The right of inviolability of the home, in any case, and no one shall have the right to enter illegally to the home, demolish it, confiscate it, or evict it.
The right of refugees, immigrants and foreigners to protection, safety and enjoyment of human rights without discrimination.

Article 3: Right to Free Choice
Everyone has the right to have her or his own affairs handled freely.
This right includes the following:

The right to choose a life partner, and the freedom to start a family according to the laws and regulations, and to determine the number of its members.
The right to choose a family name.
The right to choose a home.
The right to move freely inside and outside the country.
The right to choose clothing and appearance.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of selection and adherence to intellectual, political and religious beliefs, and freedom to practice religious rites.
The right to be different.
The right to property in which freedom of trade and industry are guaranteed.

Article 4: Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination
Equality represents the mainstay of citizenship and guarantees for every person the enjoyment of rights and liberties enshrined in the Constitution, as well as the non-discrimination in the performance of citizens, women or men, while performing their duties, this means the following:

The right to protection from all forms of discrimination, exclusion, marginalization, rejection, restriction or stigmatization based on sex, colour, race, religion, the circumstances of birth or upbringing, language, political or ideological affiliations, class, social or legal status.
The right to protect women from violence in all spaces including sexual harassment in the places of work and study.
All forms of discrimination against women are not permitted, and the principle of equality should be applicable in all political, economic, social and cultural fields as well as. It shall be embodied in the personal status code.
The law prohibits discrimination in all its forms and its sources whether it is originating from public authorities, official or unofficial bodies, groups or individuals.

Article 5: Right to Citizenship and Participation
The supremacy of the People requires breaking with the “ruler-parish” logic through every citizen’s enjoyment of full and genuine citizenship that guarantees participatory democracy:
This requires the recognition of the following:

The right to vote and choose representatives at the local, regional and central levels.
The right to run for political positions and represent the country at the external level.
The right to participate in policy-making and democratic governance at all central and governates levels.
The right to be part of political parties, associations and trade unions.
The right to express opinions, make proposals, monitor policies and hold those who are accountable.
The right to participate in making development models at central, gouvernorates levels.
The right to protest peacefully through various means, including peaceful assembly.

Article 6: Right to Human Development
The right to human development is based on the recognition of economic and social development as a part of human rights. Acknowledging these rights would guarantee the economic-societal growth that would ensure justice between regions, areas, social groups and generations.
These rights include the following:

The right to a free and compulsory education, which develops the capacity of children and young people and therefore the prosperity of their personality, is based on the respect for human rights, the principles of democracy and equality. Thus, qualifying them for integrating into the labour market.
The right to decent work and working conditions that would ensure the respect of human dignity and the right to promotion and progression in the social hierarchy.
The right to equal opportunities and career positions for women and men.
The right to a decent life which guarantees a decent home, a balanced diet, clothing and medical care.
The right to join labour unions including the right to strike.
The right to health and social security.
The right to enjoy rights specific to women such as reproductive rights and the rights specific to parents resulting from of children’s parenting and upbringing.
The right to a fair taxation.

Article 7: Intellectual, Cultural and Creative Rights
The cultural and creative rights represent the mainstay of human development, people’s advancement towards the enjoyment of a culture of human rights.
These rights include the following:

The right to creativity in all its forms and freedom of its publication and distribution without restriction or discrimination.
The right to culture for all and the need to consider culture as a public intrest.
Protection of copyright, literary and artistic property and the preservation of the cultural heritage in its different forms of civilization.
The right to freedom of thought, innovation and the protection of both creators and thinkers from all constraints.
The right to scientific research and academic freedom.
Freedom of the press and publication must be guaranteed.
Sports rights without discrimination and the right to enjoy all forms of entertainment.
The right to access information.
The State and Civil Society Organizations shall work on the development of these rights as a part of human rights.

Article 8: Right to a Healthy and Balanced Environment
Future generations have the right to enjoy a healthy and balanced environment, as part of the solidarity rights, which requires the combined efforts of both the State, economic institutions – public and private – civil society organizations and citizens – women and men alike.
This right requires the following:

The right to a sustainable development.
Recognizing the right to a healthy and balanced environment.
The right to access environmental information.
The right to participate in the selection of environmental policies.
The right to benefit from the Country’s resources, protection of its archaeological sites and ensure sovereignty over its natural resources.
The right to equitable and proper distribution of geographical space.
The right to litigate at the violation of environmental rights being an infringement on human security.

Article 9: Guarantees
This Pact emphasizes the protection of rights and freedoms proclaimed, guarantees their enjoyment by all citizens, women and men, without discrimination. This requires the following:
1. Considering the international reference of human rights, which was drafted jointly and accepted by the people of the world, this would guarantee the protection of the human self and the realization of human dignity.
2. Confirming the superiority of the ratified international human rights conventions over national legislations.
3. The State shall take all measures in order to interpret all the chapters on human rights, public and private liberties embedded in the Constitution, which must be based on both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the relative international conventions ratified by the Tunisian State.
4. Establishing constitutional institutions to ensure and protect human rights.
5. Enabling civil society organizations and citizens, women and men alike, to enjoy the right to litigate in protection of their rights.
6. Guaranteeing the protection of human rights defenders, women and men alike, and their right to access information, criticize and propose policies.
7. Considering the best interest of children and to consider it as a priority that must be evoked.
8. The State shall take measures and policies necessary to ensure the enjoyment of the right to human development including providing jobs for those with disabilities and the creation of a public fund that would preserve the dignity of the unemployed, the disabled, the poor and the marginalized.
9. All legal and institutional measures and other means taken on a temporary basis to strengthen and protect the rights of women, children and the youth, the elderly, refugees, the disabled and the marginalized shall not be considered as discriminatory actions. This guarantees the genuine achievement of equality and the full integration of all in the society without exclusion or marginalization.

Read more