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Refusing to provide information that is relative to the Pfizer vaccine When will the ministry of health get vaccinated against information-withholding?

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

The democratic transition and human rights’ support centre (DAAM) condemns the ministry of health’s refusal to provide relevant information to the contract signed to purchase 4 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, since it compromises the principle of transparency and accountability in addition to representing a limit to the right to access information, as it is consecrated by the Tunisian constitution.

The ministry released information to the public about the concluded agreement by Tunisia to purchase the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine (BNT162B2). This contract is bilateral and distinct from the COVAX initiative supervised by the world health organisation(WHO). On the 13th of January 2021, the centre submitted a request to access information at the ministry of health’s offices for the purpose of obtaining a copy of the commercial contract. The latter is paid for by the Tunisian tax-payers’ money and they will be bearing, directly, its financial repercussions. Unfortunately, the centre’s demand was rejected under the pretext that merely revealing the content of this sales contract through which 4 million Pfizer vaccine doses were bought, damages public security and international relations as per article 24 of the access to information law.

The centre’s request to access this information comes within the scope of a right that is normally accorded to every citizen, and in conjunction with the centre’s activities related to accessing information on the “winmchet” platform which aims to account and control incomes and public expenditures relative to the COVID-19 crisis and consecrated to dealing with the pandemic and that was gathered from citizens’ donations and foreign loans and donations.

It is noteworthy to remind that the same article of the access to information law on which the ministry based its rejection to provide the centre with lawfully accessible information, consecrates restricted exceptions only resorted to posterior to evaluating the damage that would result from providing the information. As such, the aforementioned damage has to be gross. Also, evaluating public interest with relation to providing the information or withholding it has to be assessed. Questioning the public interest that the ministry seeks to withhold as to the contract evidencing the purchasing of the vaccines seems to become an eventuality. We are in a dire need of complete transparency in the context of the national vaccination campaign that is stumbling, abundantly lacks trust in the state’s institutions and records a flagrant shortage as to providing information.

Therefore, the democratic transition and human rights support centre expresses its:

مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)

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