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Tunisian President Kais Saied Proclaims Himself a New Dictator

The Global Rights Watch (GRW) slammed the draft constitution submitted by the Tunisian authorities on June 30, after an ambiguous and hasty drafting process.

The GRW detailed a set of points included in the draft constitution; If approved, it would represent a setback to the efforts made over the years to promote human rights in the country.

President Kais Saied has announced a July 25 referendum on the draft constitution, as part of his “exceptional measures” declared on July 2021, including the dismissal of the government, dissolution of the parliament and Judicial Council, issuing legislation via presidential decrees, and setting early parliamentary elections on December 17.

The new draft constitution includes 142 articles granting broad powers to the president, in contrast to the 2014 constitution, which provided for a quasi-parliamentary system.

The draft constitution grants the President largely unchecked emergency powers that could be wielded to curtail human rights.

The proposed draft dismantles many of the safeguards provided in Tunisia’s post-revolution Constitution and fails to provide institutional guarantees for human rights. Removing these safeguards sends a chilling message and sets back years of efforts to strengthen human rights protection in Tunisia.

GRW stressed that the draft constitution does not offer Tunisia’s judiciary the necessary safeguards to operate with full independence and impartiality and removes oversight mechanisms used to hold the authorities to account.

It contains worrying provisions that would give leeway to authorities to interpret rights in restrictive ways.

We call upon the Tunisian authorities to ensure that information of public interest is accessible to all, and that as with any new legislation the draft constitution is subject to genuine and meaningful public and political scrutiny

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