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Constitution of Tunisia (2008) – 1: General Provisions

PREAMBLE

In the name of God,

The Compassionate and Merciful,

We, the representatives of the Tunisian people, meeting as members of the National Constituent Assembly,

Proclaim the will of this people, which has liberated itself from foreign domination by virtue of its powerful cohesion and of its struggle against tyranny, exploitation and regression:

  • to consolidate national unity and to remain faithful to the human values which constitute the common heritage of peoples attached to human dignity, justice and liberty, and working for peace, progress and free cooperation between nations;
  • to remain faithful to the teachings of Islam, to the unity of the Greater Maghreb, to its membership of the Arab family, to cooperation with the African peoples for the building a better future, and to solidarity with all peoples who are struggling for justice and liberty;
  • to establish a democracy founded on the sovereignty of the people and characterized by a stable political system based on the separation of powers.

We proclaim that the republican regime constitutes:

  • the best guarantee for the respect of the rights of Man, the establishment of the equality of citizens in their rights and duties, the realization of the prosperity of the country through economic development and the exploitation of the national riches for the benefit of the people;
  • the most effective means for ensuring the protection of the family and the citizens’ right to work, health, and education;

We, the representatives of the free and sovereign Tunisian people proclaim, by the grace of God, the present Constitution:

CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Article 1
Tunisia shall be a free, independent and sovereign State; its religion shall be Islam, its language shall be Arabic and its form of government shall be the Republic.

Article 2[1]
The Tunisian Republic shall form part of the Great Arab Maghreb, towards whose unity it shall work within the framework of common interests.

The treaties concluded to this effect which entail any modification whatsoever of the present Constitution shall be submitted to a referendum by the President of the Republic after their adoption by the Chamber of Deputies in the forms and conditions provided for by the Constitution.

Article 3
The sovereignty shall belong to the Tunisian people who shall exercise it in conformity with the Constitution.

Article 4
The flag of the Tunisian Republic shall be red; it shall have in its middle, in the conditions defined by statute, a white circle which shall contain a five-pointed star surrounded by a red crescent.

The maxim of the Republic shall be “Liberty, Order, Justice.”

Article 5[2]
The Tunisian Republic shall guarantee the fundamental liberties and rights of Man in their universal, global, complementary, and interdependent understanding. The Tunisian Republic shall have as its foundations the principles of rule of law and pluralism and shall work for the dignity of Man and the development of his personality.

State and society shall endeavor to firmly implant the values of solidarity, mutual assistance and tolerance between the individuals, groups and generations.

The Tunisian Republic shall guarantee the inviolability of the human person and freedom of conscience and shall protect the free exercise of religion, as long as it does not disturb the public order.

Article 6
All citizens shall have the same rights and duties. They shall be equal before the law.

Article 7
The citizens shall exercise the plenitude of their rights in the forms and conditions determined by statute. The exercise of these rights cannot be limited except by statute enacted for the protection of others, the respect for the public order, national defense, the development of the economy and social progress.

Article 8[3]
The liberties of opinion, expression, press, publication, assembly and association shall be guaranteed and exercised with in the conditions defined by statute.

The right to establish trade unions shall be guaranteed.

The political parties shall contribute to the guidance of citizens with regard to organizing their participation in political life. They must be organized on democratic foundations. The political parties must respect the sovereignty of the people, the values of the Republic, the rights of Man, and the principles relating to personal status.

The political parties shall commit themselves to abstaining from any form of violence, of fanaticism, of racism, and any form of discrimination.

A political party may not essentially base its principles, objectives, activities, or program upon a specific religion, language, race, sex, or region.

It is prohibited for any party to establish dependency links to foreign parties or interests.

An Act shall determine the rules on the constitution and organization of parties.

Article 9[4]
The inviolability of the domicile, the secrecy of correspondence and the protection of personal data shall be guaranteed, save in exceptional cases determined by statute.

Article 10
Every citizen shall have the right to move freely in the interior of the territory, to leave it and to establish his domicile within the limits established by statute.

Article 11
No citizen can be expatriated or prevented from returning to his country.

Article 12[5]
The arrest of a person shall be subject to judicial control, and preventive detention shall only be ordered on the basis of a judicial warrant. It shall be prohibited to subject anybody to arbitrary arrest or detention.

Every accused person shall be presumed innocent until his guilt is established following a procedure which offers him the indispensable guarantees for his defense.

Article 13[6]
The sentence shall be personal and may be pronounced only by virtue of a law existing prior to the punishable act, except in cases of a more favorable later statute. Every person who has been deprived of his liberty shall be treated in a humane manner, with respect for his dignity, in conformity with the conditions defined by statute.

Article 14
The right to property shall be guaranteed. It shall be exercised within the limits determined by statute.

Article 15[7]
Every citizen shall have the duty to protect the country, and to safeguard its independence, sovereignty, and the integrity of the national territory.

The defense of the homeland shall be a sacred duty of every citizen.

Article 16
The payment of taxes and the contribution to public expenditure on an equitable basis shall constitute a duty for every person.

Article 17
It shall be prohibited to extradite political refugees.

Next: Chapter 2 – The Legislative Power

[1] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 81-47 of June 9, 1981, which replaced the
name “National Assembly” with that of “Chamber of Deputies.”
[2] Paragraphs 1 to 3 were inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1,
2002.
[3] Paragraphs 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 were added by Constitutional Act No. 97-65 of October
27, 1997.
[4] The protection of personal data has been given constitutional status by virtue of
Constitutional Act No. 2002-51.
[5] Paragraph 1 was inserted by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[6] The final phrase in Article 13 was added and the second paragraph inserted by
Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.
[7] As amended by Constitutional Act No. 2002-51 of June 1, 2002.

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