The penal code

A quick overview of the Penal Code reveals a number of aspects that fall short of international standards, including its very definition of corruption.

In the Tunisian legal framework, the word “corruption” seems to apply to bribery. At the international level, another understanding of the word is generally accepted. In itself, the word “corruption” is a more general term designating a range of sketchy and/or illegal practices, each of which defined by a specific term, such as bribery, embezzlement, abuses of authority, nepotism, etc.

With the launching of the UNCAC self-assessment process, the Tunisian authorities will have to define and prosecute the various corruption practices, including bribery, the embezzlement of public funds, and influence-peddling. The UNCAC also requires that Tunisian law cover a broader range of entities that are criminally liable for such practices, including businesses, which are currently exempt from prosecution under the current penal code.

Note: The first cycle of the UNCAC implementation review will illuminate the aforementioned gaps, and probably some additional loopholes in both the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedures Code. One should also note that norms for promoting integrity, regulating conflicts of interest, and preventing corruption are currently lacking. Global definitions of incompatibilities, of the restrictions imposed on the reception of gifts, and of conflicts of interest may also be included. The experiences of OECD member countries suggest that, in addition to legal changes geared towards bringing Tunisian laws into conformity with international standards and requirements, effective enforcement of these laws requires that civil servants in every institution responsible for law enforcement, such as the police and the courts, familiarise themselves with these new concepts.

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