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Video: Venice Commission comments on Tunisia’s draft constitution

In this video interview, media spokesman Panos Kakaviatos discusses the Venice Commission’s comments on the proposed Tunisian Constitution.

The European Commission for Democracy through Law, the Council of Europe’s constitutional legal experts, better known as the Venice Commission, praised efforts made by the Tunisian people to draft a new constitution based on ‘universal principles of democracy and human rights.’

The final draft constitution reflects a ‘semi-presidential’ system of government whereby a directly elected president shares executive power with a prime minister coming from the strongest party in a given election.

The Venice Commission report welcomes the creation for the first time in Tunisia’s history of an independent constitutional court and the draft constitution’s guarantees of the right to privacy and the right to a fair trial.

But the commission’s experts call for careful refinement to address checks and balances in relations between the president and the prime minister, and request more explicit language to ensure that fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly and association are not limited more than necessary.

They highlight possible “tensions” between Islam and principles of plurality, neutrality and non-discrimination and recommend a “reformulation of Article 6” to specifically proclaim and guarantee freedom of religion and of a provision on constitutional revision that transforms Islam from ‘the religion of Tunisia’ into ‘the religion of the state’.

The comments (in French), requested by the Tunisian Constituent Assembly, do not constitute an officially adopted opinion but will be taken into account by Tunisian officials as they move towards a possible adoption of the constitution later this year.

Video: Interview with Panos Kakaviatos

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