This post is also available in: Arabic
This study takes place in the context of a quantitative and qualitative diagnosis of the status of the application of open governance to the Tunisian administration in general as well as the index of openness, and that’s through the application of one of its most important characteristics: the right of access to information, especially in 2021, by central and decentralized administrations. Where the central administrations included all of the ministries and constitutional authorities, as well as the two heads of the executive authority, namely the presidency of the government and the presidency of the republic, in addition to the Assembly of People’s Representatives. The decentralized administrations included the municipalities.
Monitoring the right of access to information is becoming increasingly important in Tunisia due to the specificity of the Tunisian democratic experience.
However, the study of this right was not without challenges, some of which were related to the regulating law and the legislator’s choice of a set of application mechanisms that may not be of the desired efficacy, while the challenges faced by the Center were related to fieldwork, i.e. in interaction with the various types of administration.
It should also be mentioned that the delay in launching the work of the openness index during the previous period was the result of many factors such as the Corona virus epidemic and the resulting precautionary measures that led to a complete closure for several months, as well as the return to normal work gradually in stages, whether in terms of working hours or from Where working with full functional capacity to prevent crowding in public interests.
The period of work to launch the index was also accompanied by many political crises that necessarily affected the final form of government, as well as municipalities and independent authorities, after a period of estrangement and rivalry that reached a year between the President of the Republic on the one hand and the heads of government and Parliament On the other hand, and the exceptional decisions that followed on the night of July 25, 2021, the dismissal of the government and its president, the suspension of Parliament, the lifting of the immunity of parliamentarians, as well as the subsequent dismissal of governors and heads of delegations.
In democratic systems, information is considered one of the foundations of transparency and good governance, and a fundamental human right. It is also essential in the relations of the parties among themselves, as it has the same importance and necessity in the relationship of the individual to power.
The exercise of this right is an essential element in the development of a culture of citizenship among individuals, and an essential means of detecting abuses and cases of corruption with regard to the conduct of public facilities.
In this context, Daam Center has worked on the Access to Information Project: The Key to Democracy in the center’s full belief in the importance of dedicating the right of access to information at the practical level and establishing it as a societal and civic base, with the aim of achieving a democratic society based on awareness and based on human rights approaches and standards. Thus, this necessitated the work outside the recognized central frameworks, and Daam Center has sought to achieve this by working with civil society organizations at the local level extensively through a training camp, with the aim of forming the first local civil coalition for access to information in Tunisia, and the first nucleus of this alliance consists From 12 associations, representing 12 Tunisian states.
After the launch of “Win Mchet” website, the launch of the openness index works and its issuance as a periodic report to measure the state of openness in Tunisia at the centralized and decentralized levels, as a first step from Daam Center to try to establish the work of the openness index in the three countries that the center is currently working on, and it is hoped that the work of this report will extend to Egypt and Libya in the near future.
The Openness Index is a composite index that measures the degree of openness of a country’s government and institutions to citizens and society. Openness is a prerequisite for democracy because it allows citizens to obtain the information and knowledge they need to participate in public debates, make informed decisions, and hold government and other institutions to account.
The openness index also supports good governance because it allows the ruling elites to consider and benefit from the ideas and experiences spread in society. Open governance is based on four organizational principles: transparency, access, integrity, and awareness, and these principles apply to all state institutions.
The principle of transparency means that the government provides clear and relevant public information about what it is doing. This information relates to the organization and functioning of government institutions, in particular budgetary and public procurement procedures. Transparency enables citizens to understand and evaluate government work, but government transparency may be restricted by obstacles that prevent citizens from accessing information they consider important. An open government should also seek to remove these obstacles and accommodate the concerns and demands of citizens and society. Hence, the openness index requires Public authorities seek to provide all opportunities and procedures necessary for access to information.
There are two additional internal obstacles to transparent and open government.
First, state employees may have incentives to abuse their public office to advance private interests, and although openness itself reduces these incentives, private interests can lead employees to conceal or manipulate the information they are expected to provide to citizens.
Second: State institutions may be closed and imbued with a culture of secrecy that prevents them even from collecting information about themselves. To address these internal obstacles, an open government should include the principles of integrity and awareness. Integrity rules and mechanisms discourage office owners from pursuing private interests. Awareness refers to the availability of information and knowledge within the government, and this principle is of particular importance to the executive authority because it is charged with exercising state power. Therefore, we find that constitutions have granted powers to the legislative and judicial authorities that allow them to monitor and review the policies and procedures of the executive branch. With regard to Parliament, awareness is the ability of this institution to monitor the work of the executive branch.
But awareness also refers to the availability of knowledge within the executive authority, i.e. the exchange of information between the various ministries and the arrangement of institutions that represent the core of the executive authority (the cabinet or the office of the head of government, the head of state), and other institutions. While citizen transparency, access, integrity, and organizational awareness enhance accountability, it does not cover accountability completely, because accountability also includes the ability of citizens or their representatives to sanction the existing government or institution that they see as violating its responsibilities.
Therefore, the Openness Index does not include this dimension of accountability, but it focuses on information and knowledge conditions for serious democratic accountability. The four principles are divided into individual questions that are evaluated on the basis of websites and other public information sources and interviews. The openness index assesses how to achieve these four principles in institutions, and since these institutions perform different functions in the process of governance or policy-making, individual questions are adapted to suit the characteristics of the institutions concerned, both in terms of legal and practical.
It is noticeable through the results of the index that Tunisia still has a long way to go to devote the principles of integrity and awareness, which were absent and even resulted in zero, whether at the level of ministries with regard to the integrity criterion, or at the level of municipalities with regard to the awareness criterion.
During this report, work was carried out on a quantitative and qualitative diagnosis of the status of the application of open governance for the Tunisian administration in general, by applying one of its most important characteristics, which is the right of access to information, during the period from February 2021 to December 2021 by the central and decentralized administrations.
Where the central departments included each of the following ministries:
And the following constitutional authorities:
As well as the two heads of the executive branch, which are the presidency of the government and the presidency of the republic, in addition to the Assembly of the Representatives of the People, which represents the legislative authority.
As for the decentralized administrations, 10% of the total 350 municipalities have been worked on, which represents 35 municipalities selected according to 3 criteria:
Population distribution: The choice was made between the most populous municipalities to the least densely populated municipalities.
Participatory budgeting: a form of citizen participation in the process of deciding how public money is to be spent.
Marginalization: by selecting some municipalities that suffer from a lack of potable water, social problems and infrastructure problems.
They are distributed among the 24 governorates in Tunisia and are represented in the following municipalities:
Regarding the collection of information, the work was divided into 4 indicators:
Each index has its own sub-domains.
As for integrity: Within this scope, we find questions related to the prevention of conflict of interest, such as the extent to which the person in charge of the structure declares his gains to the National Anti-Corruption Authority.
The indicator depends on this range:
For ministries and constitutional authorities, the number of questions is 3, and the final total for this scope is 3 points.
For the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Government: 22 questions, and the final total for this range is 26 points
For the People’s Representatives Assembly: Number of 24 questions and the final total for this range is 18 points.
As for the decentralized administrations, which are the municipalities: 2 questions, and the final total for this scope is 2 points.
As for transparency: In this scope, we find questions related to organizational information related to the status of the website, human resources, the extent to which decisions and programs are published, as well as the extent of transparency of public deals, through the publication and updating of their information, such as financial information and the budget.
The indicator depends on this range:
For ministries and constitutional authorities, there are 20 questions, and the final total for this range is 38 points.
For the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Government: 36 questions, and the final total for this range is 66 points.
For the People’s Representatives Assembly: 44 questions, and the final total for this range is 82 points.
As for the decentralized administrations, which are the municipalities: 34 questions, and the final total for this scope is 56 points.
As for awareness: In this scope, we find questions related to monitoring the extent of reporting, as well as questions about the strategic plan and the awareness of the structures at the planning and performance levels.
The indicator depends on this range:
For ministries and constitutional authorities, there are 7 questions, and the final total for this range is 7 points.
For the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Government: 9 questions, and the final total for this range is 13 points.
For the People’s Representatives Assembly: the number of 11 questions, and the final total for this range is 29 points.
As for the decentralized administrations, which are the municipalities: 6 questions, and the final total for this scope is 6 points.
For accessibility: Within this scope, we find questions related to the citizen’s access to the work of the various structures through the organization of public consultations and the extent of citizen interaction with them.
The indicator depends on this range
For ministries and constitutional authorities, there are 10 questions, and the final total for this range is 11 points.
For the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Government: 23 questions, and the final total for this range is 31 points.
For the People’s Representatives Assembly: 21 questions, and the final total for this range is 23 points.
For the decentralized administrations, which are the municipalities: 16 questions, and the final total for this scope is 19 points.
As for the process that we followed, we collected information from the website of the structures that deal with it, reviewed the laws when necessary, and contacted the person in charge with access to information in each administration by phone or by meeting him, and then we sent requests for information to some of the bodies.
In this context, we have done the following:
The historical context of events in Tunisia has demonstrated the importance of access to information in destabilizing the dictatorship. This was particularly evident during the revolution of December 17, 2011, at which time a series of sites leaked the violations and corruption of the former regime, which illustrates the importance of information and its circulation in raising political awareness and in embarrassing and exposing the regime.
The Tunisian revolution has opened up new political and legislative horizons that have been broken down with previous information-based education policies as well as control over it and established a new participatory relationship between State institutions and citizens based on the right of citizens and civil society organizations to access information.
Therefore, this report came within the framework of consecrating the principle of transparency and ensuring the right of natural and legal persons to have access to information as a constitutional right stipulated in article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia on January 26, 2014.
It should be noted that the signs of consecrating this right had emerged since 2011, following the revolution, through the issuance of decree No. 41 dated 5/26/2011 relating to access to administrative documents of public institutions, as revised by decree No. 54 dated 4/11/2011.
However, criticisms included the limited scope of the application of this order, given that it did not establish a comprehensive concept of information, and the procedures followed to access information were intricately relied upon, in addition to the absence of a specialized body to monitor the proper conduct of procedures and respect for that right.
Therefore, in order to avoid such deficiencies, the right of access to information was established by organic law No. 22 of 2016 of 24 March 2016 on the right of access to information, which enshrined a comprehensive concept of information as the law considered that access was possible in all cases for information stored in electronic form, in the form of a written document or in an information bank. This derives from the generality of the language in the text. No matter what form or vessel the information is, access to it remains possible even if it is deposited in the archive.
On the other hand, the law sets the limits of the exercise of this right. Like all rights, other fundemental rights must be taken into consideration to set the frameworks for their exercise and to put an end to absolute access to information, which may pose a danger either to the group or to individuals. Therefore, the legislator, in the framework of articles 24 and 25 of the same law, stipulates the limits of access to information, as it considers that information that harms public security or national defense and international relations related to the rights of others to protect their private lives, personal data and intellectual property.
In the context of the protection of personal data, the legislator considered in Article 25 that information cannot be accessed if it relates to the identities of persons who reported cases of abuse or corruption.
But these controls are not absolute, because the last part of article 24 states that in the event of a refusal, the person requesting access is informed of that with a justified answer, and the refusal ends with the disappearance of its reasons set out in the answer to the request for enforcement.
It should be noted that this legislative devotion to its importance may not be sufficient to activate the right of access to information if the various intervening parties do not understand the content of this right, its components, dimensions, limits, mechanisms and institutions guaranteeing it.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to a successful implementation of the Access to Information Law is the end of procedures to the Administrative Court.
The Administrative Court undertakes to appeal the decision of the Access to Information Authority before the Appeals Chambers. Articles 59 and 66 of Law No. 40 of 1972, dated June 1, 1972, relating to the Administrative Court regulate this.
The appeal shall be filed at a time limit of 30 days from the date of publication of the decision of the Commission.
Appeals against the decisions of the Access to Information Authority shall be submitted through a lawyer on appeal.
Excessive centralization is one of the most important obstacles to the effective access of a citizen to legal proceedings.
The court is concentrated in Tunis and the compulsory presence of a lawyer makes it more difficult to communicate not only the right of access to information but also the right of access to a close court (le juge de proximité), fair and just.
The limits of administrative judicial proceedings cast a shadow over the right of access to information. The scarcity of human resources is another factor slowing down its years-long procedures (6 years).
Since 2014, the legislator has chosen to constitutionally enshrine decentralization. The local authority represents a system of economic and social development par excellence, which broke with the central authority that has ruled Tunisia during the last 70 years, that is, since independence. The work that the municipalities have done during the past years, since the municipal elections in 2018, has not been done by the central authority in 70 years.
Following the events of July 25, a presidential order was issued in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Tunisia, in its last issue published on Wednesday, November 24, 2021, regarding the abolition of the Ministry of Local Affairs by referring its contents and appending its central and regional structures to the Ministry of the Interior.
“The presidential order states that the Loan Fund, Local Communities Assistance, Training Center and Decentralization Support Center is subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Interior.”
It states that the provisions of this Presidential Order shall enter into force on 11 October 2021, the date on which the Government of Najla Boden assumed its functions.
The abolition of local affairs and the environment from the new government configuration in Tunisia raised many questions about the future of the local authority amid fears of a setback.
Moreover, municipalities have seen an unprecedented fragmentation in their reading of the situation between a minority opposition to “all unconstitutional and coup decisions of the President of the Republic” and a majority supporting extraordinary measures such as “repairing the course.”
As a consequence of this event, some municipalities found themselves in a foggy situation, unsure of the path they would take from now on, especially because of the changes that took place at the level of the president of the municipality.
As a consequence of this event, some municipalities found themselves in a foggy situation, unsure of the path they would take from now on, especially because of the changes that took place at the level of the president of the municipality.
Perhaps the most prominent example of this is the municipality of Hammam Sousse. These changes were enough to obstruct the resort to information, and this is what we noticed when carrying out fieldwork, as sending demands or conducting an interview with them was not in the previously established formats, as it required obtaining permission from the secretary-general.
Nevertheless, it must be noted that the resort to information in the rest of the municipalities covered by the report did not pose a problem even in the period following the 25th of July, but rather they were more responsive than before; The possibility of making phone calls with those charged with access to information (the municipality of Tataouine, the municipality of Chihia, the municipality of Tazarka, the municipality of Midoun Djerba, the municipality of Zriba, etc.) and the presence of flexibility in dealing, that is, the possibility of receiving the required files without the obligation of sending the access to information request, and this would facilitate dealing, such as the municipality of Jomna.
Another point that is important to address is that those charged with access to information were serious about their work and were familiar with all its aspects and were ready to provide us with all the information and data we need.
As for the ministries, the decisions of July 25, 2021 in Tunisia represented a quantum leap for many of them, due to the dismissal of the government at the time, and thus the dismissal of ministers.
And the secretaries-general or those charged with administrative and financial affairs in the presidency of the government and the aforementioned ministries took over the management of their administrative and financial affairs, in addition to appointing those charged with running some ministries by the President of the Republic until the new government and its members are named on October 11, 2021.
This made the ministerial work experience instability, especially in the period between the dismissal of the government and the appointment of the new government.
The practical work of the report consisted of sending requests for access to information, making phone calls to those charged with access to information, or interviewing them between the period of dismissal of the government and the period of appointment of the new government, which made many challenges arise.
It should be noted that most ministries were not responsive during phone calls, either because of the absence of information or because the information was not shared without receiving a request to access the information.
The report work started with the sovereign ministries, mainly the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of the Interior was the most responsive and open to the information available during the phone interview that brought together researchers with those in charge of access to information. However, the Ministry of Defense refused to share the information by phone, but exclusively, either by sending the required information through the request for access to the information or through an electronic form published on its official website and Indeed, the ministry responded electronically that it did not have some information and refused to publish the annual report of the performance of the defense mission because it was covered by the exceptions stipulated in article 24 of organic law No. 2016-22 dated March 24, related to the right to access information without specifying the nature of the exception. It should be noted that article 24 relates to information that harms public security, national defense, international relations in connection with them, or the rights of others to protect their private lives, personal data and intellectual property.
The next paragraph of the same article indicates that these exceptions are not absolute but rather restricted, and the refusal of the request for access to information should justify his answer.
As for the rest of the ministries, and before sending requests for access to information, we visited some of them to hold meetings with officials who in charge of access to information because the questions we wanted to ask could be answered without resorting to an access request, such as:
Has the ministry conducted training for its officials whose in charge of access to information?
Despite that, our visit was rejected due to the absence of prior correspondence.
And even after sending correspondences, we were not contacted to determine the date of the visits, and this may be explained by the fluctuation that the ministries were experiencing during that period.
Therefore, the requests for access to information were the only way to reach the information. Indeed, it was easier to respond to the requests for some ministries, and others responded after sending the grievance request, and a small percentage did not respond even after sending the grievance demands, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Commerce and Export Development, and the Ministry of Environment. It’s noteworthy to mention that the appeals submitted to the Access to Information Authority have not been answered by the authority so far.
Finally, with regard to the Authorities, the independent Authorities emerged in the beginning in the form of independent administrative bodies, then they turned into independent public Authorities and in the end, they turned into independent constitutional Authorities. Independent Authorities represent a new form of organization for public structures that combines some democratic rules and modern administrative behavior based on the concepts of efficiency, impartiality, and transparency in managing public affairs.
Where it should be noted that these Authorities have not changed their work, whether before or after July 25, due to the absence of the human and logistical element in them and as an example of the absence of the human element in the authority, we mention the National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, where the number of its employees is three, as it is the head of the Authority. Thus, this would disrupt their work.
It is also worth mentioning that when dealing with Authorities, the element of flexibility is absent, as to obtain specific data to support answers, a request for access to information must be sent, unlike dealing with municipalities.
And while the theoretical framework for access to information is very exceptional in the region, its practical limits and the mechanisms of its application prompt us, when assessing, the following question.
The “DAAM” Center followed the investigation of the elements of the access to information index in light of the developments of the Tunisian political system, especially in relation to the administration’s dealings during the COVID-19 period, as follows:
At first, the researchers monitored the official websites of municipalities, ministries, and constitutional Authorities and collected the information available on those websites. It should be noted that in order to provide accurate information, the researchers updated the monitoring of this information every 40 days.
The investigation of this information is represented on the websites of these institutions by monitoring regulatory information such as the extent of the website’s update, the extent to which financial statements, and information on public transactions are published…
After the electronic monitoring phase, the researchers organized telephone interviews with those charged with access to information to monitor various practical information, such as the extent to which they participated in a training on access to information or the extent to which the president of the municipality shared his decisions with the rest of the municipal council members.
Then, at another stage, the researchers conducted field visits to some municipalities and ministries that were not able to reach them by phones, such as the municipality of Hammam Sousse and the municipality of Khelidia.
We were received by the president of the municipality of Kheldia, Mrs. Monia Ajal, who provided the necessary information and expressed her concerns about the current political situation and the impact of the abolition of the Ministry of Local Affairs on the work of municipalities and on the future of decentralization in Tunisia.
As for the municipality of Hammam Sousse, the person in charge of access to information was unable to receive the researchers because he considered that he did not have the authority to conduct an interview with them, especially in that political circumstance that witnessed several dismissals of governors. However, they were received by the general secretary who answered the questions raised.
And when dealing with ministries, it was impossible to hold an interview or meet an official without sending a message in advance. Which made resorting to the demands of access to information necessary.
As a result of this, 20 requests for access to information were filed with the ministries, and after the end of the legal period of waiting for 20 days, we received a response from some ministries such as the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Defense, and for the rest, we filed grievance claims with the relevant ministries and we received the required data as an answer to the grievance request and the request for access to information from some ministries, as an example can be mentioned the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts, the Ministry of State Property and Real Estate Affairs…
We also appealed to the authority regarding the ministries that did not respond either to the request for access to information or to the grievance request, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Trade and Export Development and the Ministry of Environment…
The appeals submitted to the Access to Information Commission were not met with any kind of answer
As for the Authorities, the same approach was followed, represented in the filing of 3 access to information requests and grievance requests that were deposited in the National Authority for the Prevention of Torture, the Independent High Authority for Elections, and the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication, and the required data was received.
It is important to highlight that the ministries and authorities in respect of which no request was filed, all the data and information needed were published on their official website.
It should be noted that for the study of Open Wisdom, DAAM Center selected what we consider the Fundamentals of Effective Open Governance. Accordingly, the study included accounting standards, transparency, accessibility, and integrity, as well as awareness.
As for transparency, this criteria included a quantitative assessment of regulatory information, public procurement (meaning purchases or acquisitions in which administrations conclude external contracts for compensation). The criteria of Transparency also include the budgets of the departments included in the study.
The study includes an examination of the integrity of the administration, which is reflected through its way of dealing with the rules of conflict of interest and lobbying.
As for awareness, it is measured by the reports prepared by the administration and the effectiveness of its strategic planning, in addition to the existence of monitoring and evaluation programs.
It is also worth noting that in order to launch and issue the Openness Index in Tunisia, the Center has chosen to support what we consider the fundamentals of effective open governance. Accordingly, the report included four specific criteria: transparency, access to information, integrity, and awareness.
The report includes, in its two parts (the Central Application of the Law of Access to Information, the Decentralized Application of the Law of Access to Information), a monitoring of the extent of the work of these principles in 35 municipalities, all ministerial portfolios, as well as independent bodies, the Presidencies of the Government and the Republic, and the Peoples’ Representatives assembly, whose work has been suspended.
1. Central application of access to information law:
Depending on the graph indicating the application of access to information in each of the ministries, authorities, the Presidency of the Republic, the Presidency of the Government, and the Assembly of People’s Representatives, we find that:
A. Ministries' implementation of the Access to Information Law
Concerning the Ministries, we calculated the average of all ministries in terms of transparency, accessibility, integrity, and awareness, and this is due to the fact that it is not possible to work on one ministry due to the discrepancy in the results and to ensure more accuracy we opted for this method.Therefore, we find that the approximate rates are as follows: *Transparency: when dealing with this indicator, we obtained 11 out of 38 ( round number for 10.79), and this is an unsatisfactory result because it doesn’t even reach the ⅓ of the total.
Transparency: when dealing with this indicator, we obtained 11 out of 38 ( round number for 10.79), and this is an unsatisfactory result because it doesn’t even reach the ⅓ of the total.
Accessibility: the approximate average was 5 out of 11 (rounder number for 4.7), and this result can be improved as it is close to ½.
Integrity: the result was zero.
Awareness: the approximate score obtained was 4 out of 7 ( rounded number for 3.83), and this result is equivalent to 57.14%, and it can be considered as a satisfactory outcome that can be improved.
The graph related to the application of access to information in the ministries is witnessing fluctuation and discrepancy between the components of access to information, on the basis of which this access was evaluated. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that this result can be explained by referring to a number of reasons and justifications, including, but not limited to: the absence of most ministers declaring their assets and the failure to publish strategies…
The following is an example of two ministries that have different totals obtained in terms of transparency, accessibility, integrity, and awareness. We made this choice to show that there are two types of ministries;
The first type: Ministries that were cooperative and responsive when submitting requests for access to information, such as the Ministry of Finance, and this resulted in a relative increase in the total that was obtained
The second type: Ministries that did not show the same degree of cooperativeness when dealing with the requests of access to information. As an illustration, we dealt with the ministry of defense, however, this deficiency can be understood through the sensitive nature of the Ministry of defense’s information.
Ministry of Economy and Finance
Ministry of defence
B. Authorities’ implementation of the Access to Information Law
In respect to Authorities, we calculated the average of all the bodies in terms of transparency, access, integrity, and awareness, and this is due to the fact that it is not possible to work on a single authority due to the discrepancy in the results and in order to ensure more accuracy we have adopted this method. Therefore, we find that the approximate rates are as follows:
Transparency: the approximate rate of this indicator for the bodies was 10 out of 38 (rounded number for 10.2), and this result did not reach ⅓, and it also expresses a number of shortcomings that prevent its advancement to a satisfactory percentage.
Accessibility: we obtained 5 (round number for 4.8) out of 11. This result is medium, but it can be accepted, as it is equivalent to 45.45%.
In contrast, when dealing with the standards of integrity and awareness, we recorded two disappointing numbers, which are represented, respectively, by: 0 and 1.
This outcome can be justified by a number of reasons; the absence of minutes of meetings of most authorities and the failure to publish financial reports…
It is noteworthy to mention that there are some authorities in which the lack of human resources played an important role in the disruption of their work, as an illustration, we mention the National Authority For Personal Data Protection.
National Autority For Personal Data Protection
C.The Parliament's implementation of the Access to Information Law
The people's Representatives Assembly
Concerning the graph for the implementation of access to information in the People’s Assembly, whose competencies are currently suspended since July 25, 2021, following the political crisis the country is going through, we find that the percentage of Accessibility has reached 17 out of 23 (74%), followed by transparency, then awareness, and finally, we find integrity, which represented the least percentage in comparison to the other indicators, and the total of each of them respectively is 48 out of 82 (59%), 8 out of 18 (44%) and 11 out of 29 (38%).
As an overall conclusion, these results are considered as decent, however, it may be improvable in certain areas.
D. The Presidency of the republic and The presidency of the Government’s implementation of the Access to Information Law
The Presidency of the Gouvernment
The presidency of the government
-When dealing with both the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Government, we note the convergence and similarity on the level of results in the criteria of transparency, accessibility, integrity, and awareness. In transparency, we note that the same result was recorded 29 out of 66 (44%) . As for accessibility, we find that the Presidency of the Republic scored 14 out of 31 (45%), and with regard to the Presidency of the Government, it scored 13 out of 31 (42%). As for integrity and awareness, the Presidency of the Republic scored respectively 9 out of 26 (35%) and 4 out of 13 (31%). As for the Presidency of the Government, it scored respectively 8 out of 26 (31%) and 3 out of 13 (23%). At this level, we note that the result in both graphs is convergent.
There is a historical explanation for this similarity, as it may stem from the history of linking the Presidency of the Republic and the First Ministry, and in practice, there was no actual separation between them, and this was the result of what was entrenched in the minds since Bourguiba’s era.
It seems that in order to effectively analyze the extent to which the law on access to information is applied, it is recommendable to go over the results of decentralization in Tunisia, this is due to the commendable effort that has been invested in dedicating decentralization of legislation in addition to oversight and keenness to activate it by civil society over the past decade.
2. Decentralized application of access to information law
As shown, when dealing with municipalities, we note that most of the municipalities were transparent, but this percentage remains insufficient and is still far from what is desired, and therefore, it can be improved.
As for accessibility, we find that most of the municipalities publish all the necessary data on their website, while there are some municipalities that did not publish all the documents. This can be explained by the financial difficulties and the lack of human resources that they suffer from.
With regard to integrity, we find that some websites do not contain general mechanisms for reporting illegal practices.
As for awareness, we recorded a disappointing result, and this can be explained by the high percentage of marginalization in some areas.
In conclusion, these results reflect not only the extent to which the right of access to information is implemented in these structures but also the level of transparency, integrity, and awareness. In order to complete the measurement of the openness index of those bodies and institutions at the central and central levels.
In practice, the municipalities were among the most cooperative and responsive structures in terms of responding to access to information requests or answering our questions through phone calls or direct interviews, and in particular we mention the municipality of Zriba, Jemna, Chihia, Khlidiya, Marsa, El Krib, Hammam Sousse, Midoun Djerba, Fouchana, Manouba, Oued El Lil, Medenine, Tataouine…
It should be noted that this list is not exhaustive.
As for the rest of the bodies, some of them were cooperative in terms of responding to access demands, and others did not respond to the demands, such as the Ministry of Health.
These results may be explained through the unstable political climate since July 25, 2021, which represents the date of the suspension of Parliament, and the dismissal of the government, where the work of the ministries witnessed fluctuations until the appointment of the new government later. In addition to the sensitive health situation that Tunisia experienced during the surge of the pandemic in the summer of 2021, which negatively affected the work of the departments and the national economic situation.
This post is also available in: Arabic