Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly (NCA) should draft a constitution that protects human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to assembly members. The constitution should make international human rights treaties part of domestic law and avoid overly restrictive clauses that qualify the rights guaranteed by those treaties, Human Rights Watch said.
The new constitution, which the assembly is drafting and will vote upon, will shape the country’s legal and political system in the wake of the 23-year rule of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted by a popular rebellion in January 2011. The inclusion of robust affirmations of human rights could impel legislators to revise the many existing laws that curtail freedom of expression and assembly, and other rights. Affirming these rights in the constitution could also impel judges not to enforce those repressive laws as contrary to the constitution, Human Rights Watch said.
“The Constituent Assembly has an important opportunity to ensure a break with the abusive practices and laws of the Ben Ali era, by adopting robust guarantees for human rights” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.