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Fighting against all forms of discrimination in Tunisia (All 4 All)
What was this programme about?
The general objective of this programme was to promote the rights and strengthen the position of discriminated groups within Tunisian society, including all minority groups such as black Tunisians, sub-Saharan migrants, the LGBTQI+ community, religious minorities, Amazigh and persons with disabilities.
We worked on two complementary axes:
- Capacity building of partner organizations (the Anti-Discrimination network ‘Points Anti-Discrimination (PAD)’ and member organizations of the six regional poles of the Observatoire pour la Défense du Droit à la Différence en Tunisie – O3DT) in the field of identification, monitoring and analysis of discrimination cases that will enable to have reliable data collection.
- The collection of this data provided a solid basis for advocacy and awareness-raising actions by various national (civil society organizations, lawyers, journalists) and international actors.
A better knowledge of these problems and an awareness on their part made it possible to act on the evolution of the legislative framework and to work in favour of better protection of the rights of minorities, to reinforce their position within society, and thus to consecrate the constitutional principle (art. 21) relating to the equality between Tunisian citizens. Promoting a non-stigmatizing political and media discourse when it comes to these groups is also essential in order to raise awareness about these issues in Tunisian society as a whole.
In the continuity of the project ‘Tackling Multiple Forms of Discrimination in Tunisia’, the ‘All for All’ project allowed to continue to subsidize the network’s member organizations during the first year of its implementation. The objective was to sustain the work of these organizations within the O3DT during the second year of the programme.
What did we aim to achieve?
Since October 2020, the O3DT member organizations had adopted the system implemented for the identification, documentation, monitoring and analysis of discrimination cases collected by the PAD network in order to create a single database under the responsibility of the Association pour la promotion du droit à la différence (ADD), where all cases were being recorded and made accessible to the lawyers of the legal clinic that was set up in the framework of the PAD programme, effectively enabling the continuation of the latter.
More than sixty lawyers signed an agreement with MRG and participated in training on Law 50 on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. The lawyers were also trained to deal with discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation and are now able to take on cases based on all types of discrimination.
In this way, by sharing the data collected by the PAD network and the regional O3DT centres, all partner organizations became able to detect, document and follow up on a greater number of cases of discrimination throughout Tunisia, enabling the clinic’s trained lawyers to take on more cases.
What was the context?
Unlike other Northern African countries, Tunisia appears to be a relatively homogenous society and has always identified as an Arab-Muslim country. This supposed homogeneity however conceals the diverse reality of Tunisian society, within which many minority groups and communities remain on the fringe of society and are often highly affected by discriminatory practices and policies. Two of the most oppressed minority groups in the country are the LGBTQI+ community, who suffer from harsh repression and discrimination, and the black Tunisians, who represent about 10 to 15 per cent of the total population and often live in remote and isolated areas. Despite the 2011 revolution, the new 2014 Constitution and efforts from the civil society, Tunisia continues to be discriminatory towards minorities, both in policy and practice.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are very sensitive issues in Tunisia, with serious human rights violations perpetrated by the State such as arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment and torture against people suspected of being homosexual or transgender. This situation is in part due to Tunisian legislation, with article 230 of the Criminal Code criminalising homosexuality with up to three years of jail (although this article is in theory anti-constitutional). In addition to this legal framework repressing LGBTQI+, strong common beliefs and hatred acts persist within the Tunisian society, further leading to the extreme exclusion and marginalization of the LGBTQI+ community and to violence within private contexts such as the family environment.
Regarding racial discrimination in Tunisia, there is very little data on the issue affecting ethnic minority groups in the country. This lack of data highlights the level of negligence of such issues and the treatment of people from these minority groups, too often considered as ‘second zone’ citizens. For instance, despite the high participation of these minorities alongside majority groups in the 2011 revolution, they were not included by the media in video, audio and photo documentaries about this period of national history.
A law criminalizing racial discrimination was passed by the Tunisian Parliament in October 2018, thus representing a landmark moment in the fight against racial discrimination. However, in their daily life, black Tunisians continue to be excluded from the public sphere: they are almost absent from the Parliament and most government and administrative institutions. This is in part due to their interlinked exclusion from education and employment.
Who were our partners?
Our partner was the Association pour la promotion du droit à la différence (ADD) with all the members of the O3DT, to fight against all forms of discrimination. Launched by ADD in April 2018, the O3DT now includes more than 80 Tunisian civil society organizations.
Who funded this programme?
The ‘All for All’ project’ was funded by the Dutch Embassy in Tunisia.
Find out more
Photo: One of five training sessions aimed at Tunisian lawyers on the fight against racial discrimination run by MRG and OHCHR Tunisia, with the collaboration of representatives of the Anti-Discrimination Points. Tunis, July 2020. Credit: MRG / Pauline Pascal.
This content is the sole responsibility of Minority Rights Group International and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Dutch Embassy in Tunisia.