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Tunisia passes illegal enrichment law to fight endemic corruption

Tunisia was rocked by anti-corruption protests last year. [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 July, 2018

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The legislation will force the president, ministers, senior public sector officials, banks, judges, security forces, journalists and unions to declare their property.

Tunisia's parliament on Tuesday approved a new law designed to combat illicit enrichment in a bid to strengthen the government's fight against widespread corruption in the country.

The legislation will force the president, ministers, senior public sector officials, banks, judges, security forces, journalists and unions to declare their property.

"The law is a revolution because it will allow the national group to scrutinize the unknown wealth that has been acquired illegally," Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said.

The parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Naceur, said the law "is another step in efforts to fight corruption, ensure transparency and preserve public money."

The penalties for illicit enrichment include fines and five years' imprisonment.

The Tunisian government last year confiscated the property and froze bank accounts of around 20 prominent businessmen in an unprecedented campaign against corruption.

Chafik Jaraya, who helped finance the ruling Nidaa Tounes party during 2014 elections, was among those detained.

He remains in jail awaiting trial.

Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been held up by Western partners as a model of democracy for the region.

Economic progress has lagged, though, and corruption remains a major problem in the North African state. 

Tunisia's anti-corruption committee says corruption is still widespread and threatens billions of dollars a year in losses.

Tunisia was the first country to topple its president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, during the popular Arab spring revolution in 2011.

Since Ben Ali and his wife fled, they have been convicted in several cases, mostly for corruption.

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