Although Prime Minister Chahed has placed the fight against corruption among the government’s top priorities, the Assembly produced only 3 laws to this end over the last year. These include: Law 2017/38 concerning the National Anti-Corruption Authority; Law 2016/30 concerning Common Provisions amongst Constitutional and Independent Courts; Law 2017/10 from 7 March 2017 concerning calling out corruption and the protection of whistleblowers.

It is important to highlight that Laws 38 and 30 were challenged by the Temporary Court for the Monitoring of the Constitutionality of Draft Laws, and that the appeals of 40 deputies were received concerning Law 38 in terms of content and form. At the request of 30 deputies, the period to submit appeals concerning Law 30 was extended and consequently did not enter into effect in spite of Prime Minister Chahed’s pledge to prepare texts that fight corruption.

In a statement to Nawaat, Hassan Amari, president of the Commission for Administrative Reforms, Good Governance, Fighting Corruption and Monitoring the Management of Public Funds pointed out that « these appeals are considered normal by the opposition so long as the Constitutional Court is not present; therefore there is always an appeal ».

The gap between words and reality

The prime minister’s appointment was based on the votes of two parliamentary blocs: Nidaa Tounes and Ennahdha, thanks to whom he gained the parliamentary majority. Among the five priorities listed in Chahed’s inauguration speech on 3 August 2016, a « declaration of war on corruption » was second only to « winning the war on terrorism ». In contrast with these declarations, no legislative measures over the past year demonstrated the « audacity and honesty » evoked by the prime minister. Majority deputies (members of the Nidaa and Ennhadha blocs) contributed to the passing of draft laws proposed by the government (including the National Anti-Corruption Authority and the Law on Common Provisions among Constitutional Courts) and which were challenged by deputies of the opposition. This revealed the extent to which parliament—the original legislative power—follows the government’s lead without coming up with its own initiatives, aside from two proposed by the majority blocs: the revision of Law 17 of 1987 concerning the Statement of Honor by Nidaa Tounes; and Proposition 66 of 2017 relating to Conflict of Interest by Ennahdha. These propositions did not pass to a vote in the plenary session.

Negative effect on the Anti-Corruption Authority

Chawki Tabib, president of the Anti-Corruption Authority, said that « On 19 July 2017, deputies approved the law concerning the Anti-Corruption Authority and this law is unconstitutional ». Tabib denounced the regulatory law governing the Authority of which he is the head, and also denounced Law 38 since it undermines the independence of constitutional and independent courts. Tabib called upon deputies to submit an appeal with the Temporary Court for the Monitoring of the Constitutionality of Draft Laws, and they responded. The resulting petition, signed by 40 deputies, states that articles 1 and 32 of the law in question violate articles 125 and 130 of the constitution; they also claimed that the Law’s articles 43 and 51 violate constitutional articles 1, 19, 32, 43, 45, 51 through 125, and 130.

The outcomes of the Assembly’s efforts in the war on corruption have so far not measured up to the propaganda surrounding the government’s moves to stop a few businessmen and smugglers. Over the last year, parliament proved unable to create the legal arsenal necessary to eliminate corruption. Legislation approved by deputies in the domain has been appealed on the basis of unconsitutionality. Still more counterproductive to their efforts, the majority blocs tried to pass a law which undermines all efforts to stamp out corruption: the presidency’s reconciliation law which seeks to pardon those involved in past cases of corruption by circumventing the judicial authority.