Fighting against all forms of discrimination in Tunisia (All 4 All)
Duration: August 2022 – July 2025
What is this programme about?
This project is a continuation of the collaboration between Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and the Observatoire pour la Defense du Droit à la Différence (O3DT). The O3DT currently comprises more than 90 Tunisian civil society organizations and is led by the Association Pour la Promotion de Droit à la Différence (ADD), following the first phase of the All4All programme which ran from June 2020 to July 2022.
In its second phase, Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), an organization with extensive expertise in the field of access to justice, joins as a new partner. The programme maintains its objectives of promoting the rights and strengthening the position of discriminated groups within Tunisian society.
We are working on three key areas:
- Strengthening the capacities of civil society actors, institutions, lawyers and the media in the fight against all forms of discrimination.
- Supporting the autonomy and mobilization of discriminated groups in favour of equality and non-discrimination.
- Raising awareness among national and international actors of the need to adopt and enforce legal frameworks that guarantee the rights of discriminated individuals and groups.
A better knowledge of these problems, as well as better judicial assistance, will make it possible to evolve the legislative framework and work towards improved protection of minority rights. Promoting a non-stigmatizing political and media discourse around marginalized groups is also essential to raise awareness about these issues in Tunisian society.
Why are we delivering this programme?
In Tunisia, many minority groups and communities remain on the margins of society and are often highly affected by discriminatory practices and policies. This takes place within a political context that is shifting towards autocracy; the President, Kaïs Saïed, known to have conservative positions on freedoms and minority rights, has over recent years been strengthening his own powers, weakening the judiciary and endangering the democratic constitution put in place in 2014.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people face discrimination and violence from law enforcement and society at large. Same-sex relationships are criminalized, while transgender people are often subject to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Four years after the passing of a region-first law that criminalizes racist speech and incitement to hatred and discrimination, Tunisia has not yet created the promised committee to fight racial discrimination or put into place the expected public policies. Discrimination against Black Tunisians remains widespread.
The Tunisian government has consistently refused to recognize the existence of religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Members of the Baháʼí faith are particularly persecuted, facing legal challenges to their national association and finding requests for the construction of Baháʼí cemeteries denied.
The indigenous Amazigh people have been affected by centuries of cultural and linguistic assimilation, encouraged by state policy. Though their language is critically endangered, it is not recognized as an official language nor taught in schools.
Sub-Saharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are vulnerable to arbitrary arrests, detention and extradition. A lack of protective legislation, particularly in labour law, encourages abusive and discriminatory practices by public authorities. Implementation of some existing laws remains slow, as in the case of anti-discrimination law No. 2018-50, which also offers protection to migrants and the 2016 law against human trafficking. Irregular border crossings remain criminalized, and the state lacks an institutional framework for the protection and reception of migrants and the most vulnerable upon their arrival on its territory.
Discrimination against people with disabilities in Tunisia persists. National legislation does not comply with the provisions of Tunisia’s Constitution concerning equality, nor with the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The exclusion and marginalization of people with disabilities are exacerbated by inaccessible public spaces and inadequate access to healthcare.
What are we doing?
Since October 2020, members of O3DT have adopted a system to identify, document, monitor and analyze cases of discrimination. This system was designed by MRG’s Points Anti-Discrimination (PAD) network in order to create a single database to record all cases of discrimination documented in Tunisia and is now managed by ADD.
The cases collected were presented in analytical reports in 2019, 2020 and 2021. O3DT will continue publishing yearly reports for the duration of the new programme and make them accessible to the lawyers of the legal pool managed by ASF, as a continuation of the pool set up under the PAD programme. By sharing the data collected by the regional O3DT centres as well as MRG local partners, all partner organizations will be able to detect, document and follow up on a greater number of cases of discrimination throughout Tunisia.
Through PAD, more than 60 lawyers were trained by MRG on discrimination on the grounds of race, sexual orientation and gender identity, disability and religion, as well as on the fight against human trafficking. This enabled them to support victims of all types of discrimination. In this second phase of the programme, MRG will work on capacity building within civil society organizations by training participants in programme writing and management, monitoring and evaluation, minority rights, intersectionality and international advocacy. MRG will also train lawyers on national and international legal frameworks related to the rights of minorities and other minoritized groups in situations of marginalization.
To raise awareness of minority rights, MRG will train journalists with the aim of producing relevant and contextually sensitive media content. MRG will also conduct international advocacy and support partners in national advocacy and strategic litigation, in addition to producing research and publications.
Who are our partners?
- The Association pour la promotion du droit à la différence, with all the members of the O3DT. Launched by ADD in April 2018 to fight against all forms of discrimination, the O3DT now includes more than 90 Tunisian civil society organizations.
- Avocats Sans Frontières launched its Tunisia branch in 2012 to contribute positively to the democratic transition and the strengthening of the rule of law.
Who is funding this programme?
This programme is funded by the Dutch Embassy in Tunisia.
Find out more
Photo: Training for lawyers on discrimination against persons with disabilities and women organized by MRG in December 2022 in Hammamet, Tunisia. Courtesy of Arroi Baraket/MRG.