Yesterday, Tunisia’s Office of the Prime Ministry published an implementation guide for Decree Law 41 – a directive passed last May affording Tunisian citizens access to governmental documents.
Since Tunisia held its first democratic elections this past October, numerous activists have been calling to have transparency inscribed in Tunisian law. An iniative called OpenGov, which aimed to promote the passing of legislation granting access to public documents, grew to include both civil society members and politicians in the Constituent Assembly. Decree Law 41 could provide exactly the sort of information freedom such activists are looking for.
However, provisions within the law restrict access to “classified documents.” This stipulation has sparked a wave of criticism from transparency activists, who feel that the law does not adequately define the criteria for labeling documents as classified.
The implementation guide consists of 22 articles that outline the principles and rules for regulating access to administrative records of public institutions, defining categories for disseminated information, and also detailing procedures to be followed to gain access to documents.
The National Committee of Information and Communication Reform (INRIC), an independent commission established shortly after the revolution to reform Tunisia’s media sector, has on several occasions expressed its endorsement of Decree Law 41. Last December, INRIC submitted a 14-recommendation proposal to the government which demanded that the government enforce Decree Law 41.