Tunisia 1959 Constitution (reviewed 2008)


In the Name of the people,

We, Habib Bourguiba, President of the Republic of Tunisia,

Considering the decree of December 29, 1955 (14 Djoumadal 1375) establishing the Constituent National Assembly;

Considering the decision of the Constituent National Assembly of July 25, 1957 (26 Thul-hidja 1376); and

With the approval of the Constituent National Assembly;

Promulgate the following Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia, the content of which is as follows:

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,

We, the representatives of the Tunisian people, meeting as members of the Constituent National Assembly.

Proclaim the will of our people, who freed themselves from foreign domination thanks to their strong cohesion and their fight against tyranny, exploitation and regression:

  • To consolidate national unity and remain faithful to the human values that constitute the common heritage of the peoples attached to human dignity, justice and liberty and who are striving for peace, progress and free cooperation among nations;
    to remain faithful to the teachings of Islam, to the unity of the Great Maghreb, to its membership of the Arab community, and to cooperation with the peoples who struggle to achieve justice and liberty;

    to establish a democracy founded on the sovereignty of the people, and characterized by a stable political system based on separation of powers.

We proclaim that the republican regime constitutes:

  • the best guarantee for the respect of human rights, for the establishment of equality among citizens in terms of rights and duties, and for the achievement of the country’s prosperity through economic development and use of the nation’s riches for the benefit of the people;
    the most effective way of protecting the family and ensuring the citizens’ right to work, health care and education.

We, the representatives of the free and sovereign Tunisian people, do, by the grace of God, proclaim this Constitution.

Chapter I. General Provisions

Article 1.

Tunisia is a free, independent and sovereign State. Its religion is Islam, its language is Arabic and its type of government is the Republic.

Article 2.

The Republic of Tunisia is a part Great Arab Maghreb, an entity which it endeavors to unify within the framework of mutual interests.

Treaties signed to this end which might cause any modification in this Constitution shall be submitted to referendum by the President of the Republic following their adoption by the Chamber of Deputies in the forms and conditions provided for by the Constitution.

Article 3.

Sovereignty belongs to the Tunisian People, who exercise it in accordance with the Constitution.

Article 4.

The flag of the Republic of Tunisia is red, and, according to the terms defined by law, bears in its midst a white circle in which is inscribed a five-pointed red star surrounded by a red crescent.

The motto of the republic is: Freedom, Order, Justice.

Article 5.

The Republic of Tunisia shall guarantee fundamental freedoms and human rights in their universality, comprehensiveness, complementarity and interdependence.

The Republic of Tunisia shall be founded upon the principles of the rule of law and pluralism and shall strive to promote human dignity and to develop the human personality.

The State and society shall strive to entrench the values of solidarity, mutual assistance and tolerance among individuals, social categories and generations.

The Republic of Tunisia shall guarantee the inviolability of the human person and freedom of conscience, and defend the free practice of religious beliefs, provided this does not disturb public order.

Article 6.

All citizens have the same rights and obligations. All are equal before the law.

Article 7.

Citizens exercise all their rights in the forms and according to the terms provided for by law. The exercise of these rights can be limited only by laws enacted to protect the rights of others, the respect of public order, national defense, the development of the economy and social progress.

Article 8.

Freedom of opinion, expression, press, publication, assembly and association are guaranteed and exercised according to the terms defined by the law.

The right to organize in trade unions is guaranteed. Political parties contribute to supervising citizens, in order to organize their participation in political life, and they should be established on democratic foundations. Political parties must respect the sovereignty of the people, the values of the republic, human rights, and the principles pertaining to personal status.

Political parties pledge to prohibit all forms of violence, fanaticism, racism and any other form of discrimination.

No political party may take religion, language, race, sex or region as the foundation for its principles, objectives, activity or programs.

It is prohibited for any party to be dependent upon foreign parties or interests.

The law sets the rules governing the establishment and organization of parties.

Article 9.

The inviolability of the home, the confidentiality of correspondence and the protection of personal data shall be guaranteed, save in exceptional cases prescribed by law.

Article 10.

Every citizen has the right to move freely within the country, to leave it, and to take up residence within the limits provided for by the law.

Article 11.

No citizen can be banished from the national territory or prevented from returning to it.

Article 12.

Police custody shall be subject to judicial control and preventive detention shall be exercised only following judicial instruction. It is forbidden to place any individual in arbitrary police custody or preventive detention.

An accused person is presumed innocent until his guilt has been proven through a procedure that offers him the guarantees that are indispensable for his defense.

Article 13.

Sentences are personal and shall be pronounced only by virtue of a law issued prior to the punishable act, except in the case of a more favorable law.

Those deprived of freedom shall be treated humanely and their dignity shall be respected, in compliance with the conditions laid down by law.

Article 14.

Property right is guaranteed. It is exercised within the limits provided for by the law.

Article 15.

It is the duty of each citizen to protect the country and to safeguard its independence, its sovereignty and the integrity of the national territory.

It is each citizen’s sacred duty to defend the homeland.

Article 16.

It is the duty of every individual to pay taxes and too make an equitable contribution to public expenditures.

Article 17.

Political refugees cannot be extradited.