by Sofia Silei

Al Bawsala, an independent non-governmental organization (NGO) under Tunisian non-profit law, is steadfastly committed to promoting the rights of Tunisian citizens and ensuring transparency in governance. Free from political influences, Al Bawsala seeks to become a cornerstone for citizens seeking political information, elected officials looking for best practices, and associations aiming to advocate for citizen rights.

This commitment is rooted in the principles of democracy, with the organization aiming to foster a culture of accountability, fundamental rights, and individual liberties while supporting grassroots initiatives. Al Bawsala’s vision is encapsulated in three primary objectives: empowering citizens, promoting good governance and social progress. Central to Al Bawsala’s mission is placing citizens at the heart of political action.

The organization equips individuals with the knowledge to understand the activities of elected officials and defend their fundamental rights. Al Bawsala works towards implementing good governance and political ethics by establishing relationships with elected officials and decision-makers. Additionally, Al Bawsala is dedicated to advocating for social progress and the emancipation of citizens, ensuring that societal advancements are inclusive and equitable.

Al Bawsala is deeply committed to maintaining its political and financial independence. Guided by its values, the organization operates autonomously from any government, political parties, or business interests. This independence ensures that its programs, policies, and management are unbiased and solely focused on its mission.

The organization operates democratically, with a clear organizational structure and decision-making process. A Board of Directors oversees the strategic direction, while an Executive Office, elected for a four-year term, oversees the daily management and political representation of the organization. Transparency and honesty are cornerstones of Al Bawsala’s operational ethos, ensuring clarity regarding its structures, mission, policies, finances, and activities. Al Bawsala’s activities revolve around three main pillars: monitoring, advocacy and empowerment. This involves overseeing the legislative and executive branches of government to ensure accountability and transparency.

The organization promotes transparency and a culture of accountability while defending fundamental rights and individual liberties. Al Bawsala also aids the development of citizen-led initiatives, fostering grassroots activism and engagement. One of the key projects of Al Bawsala is the Never Again Project. This initiative, in collaboration with Avocats Sans Frontières and the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, monitors the transitional justice process in Tunisia. It supports various stakeholders in breaking with past practices and ensuring non-repetition of severe human rights violations from the dictatorship era. Another significant project is Marsad Majles, an online platform providing citizens with free and easy access to information related to the activities of their elected officials and the drafting of the new constitution.

The project aims to place citizens at the heart of parliamentary decision-making by offering reliable data on the performance and voting trends of their representatives, committee meeting chronicles, legislative initiatives, and projects examined in parliament. Marsad Majles acts as a bridge between the parliamentary institution and civil society, fostering collaborative approaches and facilitating debates between elected officials and citizens on various themes.

Additionally, Marsad Baladia was launched in January 2014 to observe municipal activities by providing clear and updated information. It aims to shorten the distance between municipalities and citizens, enhancing understanding of local realities and participation in decision-making. The project employs a uniform method for collecting information from municipalities, covering aspects like budget, human resources, properties, municipal council activities, and investment projects. The transparency of municipal activities is assessed based on the information provided. In its report titled “Austerity: a fatality or an avoidable misery?” dated October 10, 2023, Al Bawsala highlights the significant social and economic consequences of austerity measures in Tunisia, including increased inequality and poverty. The report underscores the necessity of adopting ethical and sustainable policies to mitigate these adverse effects.

Al Bawsala stands as a beacon of transparency, accountability, and citizen empowerment in Tunisia. If the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ began in Tunisia and democracy had flourished in this nation, did President Kais Saied assume full powers in 2021. Through its various projects and unwavering commitment to democratic principles, the organization plays a crucial role in shaping a more informed, engaged, and equitable society. By promoting good governance and advocating for citizens’ rights, Al Bawsala is paving the way for a brighter, more democratic future in Tunisia.

On the cover photo, screenshot of the homepage of the NGO Al Bawsala’s website