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Tunisia

Anti-Corruption Framework (TN0043)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Tunisia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: The National Anti-Corruption Authority, - The governance department at the Presidency of the Government

Support Institution(s): The parliament CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups - Civil Coalition against corruption

Policy Areas

Anti-Corruption, Anti-Corruption Institutions, Asset Disclosure, Conflicts of Interest, Legislation & Regulation, Open Parliaments, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Tunisia Transitional Results Report 2018-2020, Tunisia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Establish regulatory and organizational mechanisms contributing to applying integrity in the public sector and combatting corruption Source of funding/
Relation with other programs and policies
Source of funding: State Budget
Steps and execution agenda
Beginning of October 2018
End of October 2018
Contact Information
Name of the responsible person from implementing agency
1. Mr. Chaouki Tabib
2. Walid El Fehri
Title and Department
1. President of the National Anti-Corruption Authority
2. Director in the governance interests at the Presidency of the
Government
E-mail address
1. contact@inlucc.tn
2. walid.elfehri@pm.gov.tn

Other Actors involved
Legislative Authority
- The parliament
CSOs, private sector, multilaterals, working groups
- Civil Coalition against corruption

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Establish mechanisms contributing to applying integrity in the public sector and combating corruption

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"Integrity in the public sector and fighting administrative corruption are considered among the focus of all administrative actors as well as other actors such associations and non-government organizations active in this field. In order to continue with achieved reforms, and given the continued complaints and criticisms on corruption in the public sector, this commitment is intended to contribute to addressing this issue through implementing two projects."

Milestones:

  • Issuing regulatory decrees concerning the new anti-corruption laws, namely:
    • Organic Law on corruption reporting and whistleblowers protection,
    • Law on the declaration of assets and liabilities and preventing illicit enrichment and conflict of interests in public sector,
  • Establishing the constitutional "Authority of good governance and anti-corruption".

Responsible institution: The National Anti-Corruption Authority, The governance department at the Presidency of the Government

Supporting institution(s): The parliament, Civil Coalition against corruption

Start date: October 2018                               End date: August 2020

Editorial Note: This is a partial version of the commitment text. For the full commitment text from the Tunisia national action plan, see here.

Commitment Overview

Verifiability

OGP Value Relevance (as written)

Potential Impact

Completion

Did It Open Government?

Not specific enough to be verifiable

Specific enough to be verifiable

Access to Information

Civic Participation

Public Accountability

Technology & Innovation for Transparency & Accountability

None

Minor

Moderate

Transformative

Not Started

Limited

Substantial

Completed

Worsened

Did Not Change

Marginal

Major

Outstanding

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

Assessed at the end of action plan cycle.

                                       

Context and Objectives

This commitment aims to combat corruption in the public sector. Tunisia took progressive steps toward fighting corruption in 2016 and early 2017. These include passing a Freedom of Information law, adopting a national anticorruption strategy, empowering the National Anti-Corruption Authority to carry out its mandate, and passing the Whistleblower Protection Law in February 2017. [36] The Whistleblower Protection Law establishes mechanisms and procedures for denouncing corruption and protects whistleblowers against any act of reprisal against them, regarded as punishable crimes. The law also protects public servants against retaliation from their supervisors. [37] In addition, the Tunisian parliament passed a law in July 2018 of declaration of assets that obliges politicians, media, and NGOs to declare their assets to the Authority for Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption (Instance nationale de lutte contre la corruption—INLUCC). [38]

INLUCC was a temporary anticorruption body that was put in place immediately after the revolution of 2011 to investigate corruption under the Ben Ali regime. This body was institutionalized by the 2014 constitution. INLUCC investigates public and private sector corruption cases and refers them to state ministries, relevant organizations, and courts. INLUCC is under-resourced and understaffed. In July 2017, the president of the commission, Chawki Tabib, testified before parliament’s Finance, Planning and Development Committee that the budget (less than 2 million dinars or 820,000 USD) was insufficient to carry out its mandate to conduct investigations, support civil society, and establish a research center. [39]

This commitment includes two milestones. The first milestone covers the issuance of regulatory decrees concerning the new anticorruption laws. The second milestone entails establishing the constitutional "Authority of good governance and anticorruption.” While the first milestone is specific and verifiable, the second milestone does not provide sufficient information on what is meant by “establishing” the authority.

This commitment is relevant to the OGP value of public accountability, as it aims to operationalize new anticorruption laws contributing to whistleblower protection, public sector declaration of assets and liabilities, and prevention of illicit enrichment and conflict of interests.

This commitment could represent a major step for combatting corruption in the public sector. The issuance of regulatory decrees is a necessary measure that can expedite implementation of the anticorruption laws. However, their efficacy depends on their inclusion of enforcement mechanisms, which is not clarified by the commitment. In terms of establishing the constitutional authority of good governance and anticorruption, this milestone’s impact is ambiguous. Considering that INLUCC has existed since 2011 and was institutionalized by the 2014 constitution, it is unclear if the commitment aims to strengthen the legal structure of INLUCC or merely provide additional operational resources, such as budget or staff.

Next Step

For future commitments in this policy area, the government could increase impact through the following measures:

  • Promote a public consultation process on new legislation to combat corruption;
  • Proactively publish declarations of assets or other relevant information that can contribute to facilitate oversight by civil society organizations;
  • Provide further information on the establishment of the authority of good governance and anticorruption and if it aims to build on previous work by the INLUCC.
[36] “Middle East and North Africa: A very Drastic Decline”, Transparency International, 25 January 2017, https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/mena_a_very_drastic_decline.
[38] “Tunisia approves illegal enrichment law to strengthen anti-corruption fight”, Tarek Amara, Reuters, 17 July 2018.
[39] “U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Center”, Tunisia, https://www.u4.no/publications/country-profile-tunisia.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

8. Establish mechanisms contributing to applying integrity in the public sector and combating corruption

Limited:

For details regarding the implementation and early results of this commitment, see Section 2.3.

Aim of the commitment

This commitment combats corruption in the public sector [59] and builds on several anticorruption reforms implemented in the last decade. In 2011, the government established the Authority for Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption (INLUCC) as a temporary body, which was reaffirmed in the 2014 constitution. However, the agency lacks resources and staff. [60] In 2016 and 2017, Tunisia adopted a national anticorruption strategy, which empowered the National Anti-Corruption Authority’s mandate, and passed the Whistleblower Protection Law. [61] In 2018, the Tunisian parliament passed a law that requires politicians, the media, and NGOs to declare their assets to INLUCC. [62]

This commitment’s first milestone aimed to pass three government decrees: whistleblower protection, asset declaration, and conflict of interest declaration. The second milestone aimed at replacing the anticorruption authority by establishing a new constitutionally mandated anticorruption authority. [63]

Did it open government?

Marginal

Commitment implementation is limited. The government adopted two decrees envisioned in the first milestone in 2019. [64] The Presidency introduced a draft decree on the asset declaration form, but it has not adopted the decree. The government and parliament did not implement the second milestone and have not established a new constitutional anticorruption authority.

The government passed decrees to incentivize whistleblowers [65] and corruption reporting. [66] According to a Transparency International study, Tunisians believe that citizen denunciation of corruption could have an impact. Achref Aouadi from I-Watch believes this is in part due to government measures to protect whistleblowers. [67] However, there are limitations in the government's application of whistleblower protections. Ahmed Ben Taârit, also from I-Watch, [68] states that reporting potential corruption anonymously online to the current anticorruption authority is impossible. Another impediment is the practice of the authority to summon the whistleblowers to the authority’s headquarters for questioning. This can discourage filing reports, since the whistleblower's anonymity is jeopardized. [69] The Corruption Perception Index for Tunisia stagnated in 2018 and 2019, notwithstanding the efforts in denouncing corruption. I-Watch attributes this stagnation mainly to a lack of political will and a passive judiciary, including with cases involving politicians. [70] Thus, the second milestone is merely a marginal change to anticorruption in Tunisia.

Since the adoption of the asset declaration law, civil society indicated that the anticorruption authority's independence is at risk as it falls under the executive branch. In 2020, the outgoing Prime Minister fired the president of the anticorruption authority, [71] a move that the press called “problematic in terms of ethics.” [72] According to Ahmed Ben Taârit, this demonstrates the importance of a constitutionally established anticorruption authority independent from the executive. [73] Thus, while the passage of the decrees established important regulatory scaffolding, challenges to implementation of the decrees and contextual obstacles mean that this commitment has only resulted in marginal changes to government practice.

[59] Government of the Republic of Tunisia, “Commitment 8: Consolidate integrity in public sector and corruption fight, Follow up Plan Implementation” (OGP Tunisia, accessed 2 Jul. 2021), http://www.ogptunisie.gov.tn/en/?p=1338.
[60] Sfaxi, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM): Tunisia Design Report 2018–2020 at 37.
[61]Id.
[62]Id.
[63]Id.
[64] Government of the Republic of Tunisia, “Commitment 8: Consolidate integrity in public sector and corruption fight, Follow up Plan Implementation.”
[65] “Government Decree No. 2019-1123, setting the conditions and procedures for granting incentives in the prevention of corruption”, Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia, (OGP Tunisia, 10 Dec. 2019), http://www.ogptunisie.gov.tn/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Decret2019_1124Arabe.pdf.
[66] Government Decree No. 2019-1124, on the mechanisms, formulas and criteria for granting rewards to whistleblowers, Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia, (OGP Tunisia, 10 Dec. 2019), http://www.ogptunisie.gov.tn/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Decret2019_1124Arabe.pdf.
[67] Emna Bhira, “18 %, taux de corruption en Tunisie, selon Transparency International” (18%, corruption rate in Tunisia, according to Transparency International) (Marsad 1, 12 Dec. 2019), https://www.observatoire-securite.tn/fr/2019/12/12/18-taux-de-corruption-en-tunisie-selon-transparency-international/.
[68] Taârit, interview.
[69]Id.
[70] Réalités editor, "Tunisie: I watch dénonce un indicateur de corruption alarmant” (Tunisia: I Watch denounces an alarming corruption indicator) (Réalités online, 23 Jan. 2020), https://www.realites.com.tn/2020/01/tunisie-i-watch-denonce-un-indicateur-de-corruption-alarmant-2/.
[71] Seif Soudani, "Le président de l’instance anti-corruption démis de ses fonctions" (president of the anti-corruption body removed from office) (Le courrier de l’Atlas, 24 Aug. 2020), https://www.lecourrierdelatlas.com/le-president-de-linstance-anti-corruption-demis-de-ses-fonctions/.
[72]Id.
[73] Taârit, interview.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership