Tunisian restrictions trouble rights group

Oct. 15, 2012 at 12:19 PM
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TUNIS, Tunisia, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A Tunisian draft law that excludes former government officials from politics is too restrictive in the country's new democracy, Human Rights Watch said.

A draft law submitted by Tunisian legislators would prohibit members of the government who held office between 1987 and January, 2011 from taking part in political life for five years.

Joe Stork, deputy director for Middle East and North African programs at Human Rights Watch, said intentions may be good, but do little to advance inclusive democracy.

"Authorities may have a legitimate interest in excluding senior members of the former ruling party from elected office temporarily, but this law would effectively ban thousands of people from all political activity, thus depriving them of one of their fundamental rights," he said in a statement.

A U.N. working group on discrimination against women had expressed concern that draft provisions in the Tunisian Constitution would restrict women's roles in a modern society.

A protest suicide in December 2010 sparked the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that brought Islamic party Ennahda to power in elections this year.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jabali told the European Foreign Affairs Committee early this month that his government was obligated to uphold basic democratic principles.

The new constitution should be finished by the beginning of next year. Parliamentary elections would follow adoption of the new constitution later in 2013.

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