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Rights groups praise Tunisian Constitution

  |   Feb. 3, 2014 at 11:18 AM
TUNIS, Tunisia, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Tunisian rights group al-Bawsala welcomed the principles outlined in Tunisia's new constitution.

Members of the National Constituent Assembly last week voted in favor of a new constitution. The rights groups said in a joint statement it represents a "significant" improvement over a 2012 draft.

"Now it's up to the courts, lawmakers, prosecutors, and other officials to make sure that their policies, procedures, and laws comply with the rights enshrined in the constitution," Eric Goldstein, deputy director of Middle East and North African program at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Saturday.

The rights groups said they applauded measures meant to secure basic freedoms, but expressed concern over "ambiguous articles" related to restrictions on the right to question certain religious ideologies.

A protest suicide in Tunisia in late 2010 sparked the wave of demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa dubbed the Arab Spring. The new constitution is part of the transition enacted in the wake of demonstrations that led to the ouster of long-time leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

A spokeswoman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said last week the Tunisian measure was a step in the right direction.

The new constitution replaces the documented drafted when Tunisia gained independence from France in 1956.

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