Amnesty International raises concerns over cybercrime law investigations in Tunisia

Amnesty International is concerned about the new cybercrime law in Tunisia, stating that it restricts freedom of expression. The law allows for criminal investigations based on vague criteria and lacks clear safeguards against human rights violations. Authorities have used this law to target individuals, leading to harsh prison sentences for offenses like ‘fake news.’ The government has been granted broad powers to surveil online activities and collect personal data in the name of truth-seeking or criminal investigations.

Amnesty International argues that Tunisian authorities have strengthened restrictions on freedom of expression by passing a new decree-law on cybercrime (in September 2022) and using it to open criminal investigations against at least four people.

According to the organisation, the law does not clearly define the parameters and requirements for approving surveillance and data-gathering methods in a way that ensures that human rights are not violated. It mandates harsh prison sentences based on ambiguous concepts like ‘fake news,’ and gives the government broad authority to track people’s online activities and gather personal information with the argument that doing so might help in revealing the truth or is necessary for the investigation of a suspected crime.