Tunisia has made great strides since its 2011 revolution, including holding several rounds of fair and free parliamentary and presidential elections, finalizing a new constitution, and most recently, forming a new, democratically elected government. As with all transitions, however, there are also challenges, in particular, those posed by extremists who aim to derail efforts toward establishing a successful, pluralistic democracy. Such attempts include the September 14, 2012, attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, assassinations of two Tunisian opposition politicians in 2013, and the March 18, 2015 attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis. The police and National Guard are the first line of defense in such cases. They require additional training and equipment to counter the newly-evolving terrorist threat. Moreover, the justice and corrections sectors are overwhelmed by an increased number of criminal cases and a surge in the number of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity. The judiciary often struggles to bring cases to trial in a timely manner, and the prison system suffers from overcrowding.
The Tunisian civilian security establishment is working to transform itself into an accountable, transparent, and politically-neutral public service. The reform of Tunisia’s criminal justice institutions and related laws is necessary to reorient mandates, cultures, and methods of operation and to help the Tunisian government respond to this new environment. As the birthplace of the Arab Awakening, the United States sees Tunisia as a beacon for democracy and successful criminal justice sector reform in the Middle East and North Africa.
INL supports Tunisian efforts to reform security and justice institutions to ensure they protect the rights of the Tunisian people. INL’s strategy in Tunisia is to promote interministerial reform efforts for the police, justice sector, and prison system to complement more immediate-term efforts to bolster basic capacities through training and equipment. INL support will enhance the Tunisian police’s capacity to deliver citizen-oriented policing while protecting human rights. INL assistance will allow the police to update their training curriculum and modernize training academy operations, provide training for improved investigations and case management, and help create community policing best practices. In the justice sector, INL will work to strengthen judicial integrity and independence, in part by improving the technical capacity of judicial and legal personnel to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate complex criminal matters, including terrorism, corruption, and financial crimes. INL also will work to improve access to justice through improved court administration and case management. INL assistance will strengthen Tunisia’s corrections system to incarcerate offenders effectively and properly while respecting human rights. INL will provide training in classification, alternatives to incarceration, emergency response, and prisoner transport. Furthermore, INL is implementing a community corrections program focused on probation, community service, education, skills training, and wellness.
Accomplishments: INL successfully trained approximately 1,000 officers and commanders of the National Police on proper crowd control techniques in addition to certifying 16 Tunisian trainers who will deliver crowd control training to future officers and commanders. INL is replicating this effort for the National Guard, ensuring all civilian security forces in Tunisia have the training and skills to respond to and allow for peaceful demonstrations. INL also provided tactical and hostage rescue training for elite anti-terrorism units fighting new threats from extremists. In prisons reform, INL established a prisoner classification unit within the Directorate General of Prisons and Rehabilitation and assisted in the development of the first ever classification tool. The tool is undergoing beta testing in three pilot prisons and will launch system wide in the next year. INL provided training to prison leaders and mid-level management on best practices in corrections management, command and control, and alternative sentencing systems. INL’s assistance, through the United Nations Development Program to the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Agency, built its capacity to deter, detect, and punish acts of corruption committed since 1987. Through support to the United Nations Organization for Drugs and Crime, INL strengthened Tunisia’s cybercrime investigations and forensic analysis capabilities.