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Tunisian associations call on the Truth and Dignity Commission to store and keep the personal data of Tunisian citizens in the Tunisian territory

Tunis, in March 19th, 2018

Truth and Dignity Commission is an independent commission that handles human rights violations, holds those responsible accountable, and protects the affected victims from the publication and circulation of sensitive information about them.

On February 28th, 2018 the Truth and Dignity Commission published a call for proposals on its official website[1] to carry out a digital platform for backup copying, archiving, and the use of video files as the Commission proposed to launch a bid for the companies that are interested in this offer.

However, the potential risks associated with the transfer of the archive to storage platforms outside Tunisian territory contradicts with existing legislation as well as national sovereignty, since the data owners did not have any information on how to collect and store such data and who has the right to access it, knowing that they have confidently given their testimonies and personal statements to the truth and dignity commission.

On March 1st, 2018, the Truth and Dignity Commission published a statement[2] stating that its previous bid was related only to audiovisual recordings and not to the entire archive of the Commission. The Commission also stated that audiovisual recordings exceeded 80,000 GB which made them publish the offer and look for alternative solutions for the storage personal data.

The audiovisual recordings are also considered personal and important, and the commission must keep them under protection in Tunisian archives. They are considered as living testimonies of cases of torture, corruption, etc., and their size does not justify presenting them outside the Tunisian territory, as this totally violates national sovereignty.

On February 28th, 2018, the National Archives Institution and the Tunisian Alliance for Dignity organized a conference entitled “Victim’s Archive: A Tool for Reconciliation and Memory Conservation”. The objectives of the conference were to address the issues and challenges facing the preservation of the victims’ archive, State institutions’ responsibility to ensure the safety, protection, and accessibility of the victims’ archives in accordance with the legal system and international standards and to consider, and ways of preserving memory.

The conference was organized with the presence of Mr. Omar Safrawi, president of the National Independent Coordination for Transitional Justice, Mr. Chawki Kaddes, president of the Personal Data Protection Commission and Mr. Imad AlHazgui, president of the Access to Information Commission to discuss the legal framework in dealing with personal data and how to store it.

The undersigned associations condemn the commission’s call for proposal and express its concern about the archives of the Truth and Dignity Commission in a foreign country especially that the archives contain personal data for Tunisian victims and because of the extensive jurisdictions of the commission to collect information and to investigate serious human rights violations committed.

Thus the commission’s decision violates Article 24 of the Tunisian Constitution, which stipulates that Tunisia “protects the right  to  privacy  and  the  inviolability  of  the  home,  and  the confidentiality of correspondence, communications, and personal information”.

Relevant legal texts:

Article 44 of the Basic Law No. 53 of 2013 of December 24th, 2013 on the establishment and organization of transitional justice provides that: “The Commission recommends that it take all measures it deems necessary to preserve the national memory of victims of violations and may establish the necessary activities.”

Article 68 of the Basic Law No. 53 of 2013 “the commission shall conclude its work by the end of the period prescribed by law and shall hand over all its documents to the National Archives or to an institution specialized in preserving the national memory that shall be established for this purpose.”

Law No. 95 of 1988 dated: 2nd of August 1988 – Chapter 27: Any release of private archives from the national territory, whether definitively or provisionally, must first be notified to the national archives by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt in order to obtain an authorization.

Signed Organizations:

  • Access now
  • Alkhat
  • Democratic Transition and Human Rights Support Center “DAAM”
  • Dostourna Network
  • Vigilance Association for Democracy and Civic State
  • Tunisian Forum for Socioeconomic Rights
  • The Commission for the Respect of Freedoms and Human Rights in Tunisia
  • National Independent Coordination for Transitional Justice

[1] http://www.ivd.tn/

[2] http://www.ivd.tn/

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