Tunisia is considering banning foreign funding for non-governmental organizations

Tunisia

Tunisia TunisiaTunisian President Kais Saied said on Thursday that he will release a decree prohibiting foreign funding for civil society organizations, as part of his efforts to hold such organizations responsible to transparency requirements as part of Tunisia’s anti-corruption campaign.

Since the 2011 revolt, civil society organizations have played a prominent role in Tunisian politics, including several that have received support from Western nations. The organizations’ rejection of any reform to the legislative framework is seen by certain political circles in Tunisia as lobbying to avoid supervision.

Following the demise of the Ben Ali dictatorship, a slew of charities and religious organizations sprung up. Those NGOs were accused of being fronts for funding extremist groups and recruiting thousands of young Tunisians to join in battles in Syria, Iraq, and Libya a few years later.

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According to official sources, Tunisia has over 19,000 active and accredited organisations. Tunisian officials said in 2017 that 175 organizations were suspected of having terrorist affiliations. At the time, the government’s secretary-general, Ahmed Zarrouk, claimed his department had recommended the suspension of various organizations in December 2015 due to “many irregularities connected mostly to their finances and the donations they had received.”

Saied, who suspended parliament in an attempt to break the country’s political impasse, has frequently stated that Tunisia’s liberties are “protected,” citing his dedication to equality before the law and his opposition to violence. On Thursday, he reiterated that a ban on foreign money is required after authorities uncovered that such transactions are used to support election campaigns or to harm the state. “We refuse to be influenced by money or coercion in our decisions.” Tunisians, he remarked, are a sovereign and dignified people.

“The judiciary is called to implement the report of the Court of Auditors on the funding of election campaigns in 2019 as soon as feasible,” Saied said at the start of a cabinet meeting on Thursday. “All the numbers pertaining to funds from overseas are in the hands of the judiciary,” he continued. Saied also insisted on liberties being respected. “We oppose any violation of the constitutionally given rights and freedoms, as well as international and regional texts,” he stated.

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