The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Tunisia remains on a steady but fragile path toward consolidating and advancing its democracy. In 2014, Tunisia held its first post-revolutionary presidential and parliamentary elections and finalized a new constitution through a consultative process, and it is on track for another round of elections in 2019. As with all transitions however, there are also challenges, in particular, domestic terrorism threats and spillover effects of terrorism in Libya, which have had dramatic societal and economic effects on Tunisia. The first line of defense against these threats is often the civilian Police and National Guard who require additional training, equipment, and technical assistance to respond to these evolving threats, which are affecting Tunisia. Furthermore, an increased number of criminal cases, as well as a surge in the number of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, overwhelms the justice and corrections sectors. The judiciary often struggles to bring cases to trial in a timely manner, and the prison system suffers from overcrowding.
Goals: The Tunisian civilian security establishment is working to transform itself into an accountable, transparent, and politically-neutral public service. INL supports the Government of Tunisia in reforming its criminal justice sector institutions to ensure they protect the rights of the Tunisian people. INL’s strategy in Tunisia is to promote inter-ministerial 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 assistance enhances the Tunisian law enforcement’s capacity to delivery citizen-oriented policing, while protecting human rights, and 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. In addition, INL will support the recent reform of the Tunisian criminal procedure code to reinforce the rights of detainees through training and technical assistance and 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, offender management, and prisoner transport. Furthermore, INL will continue to implement a community corrections program focused on probation, community service, education, skills training, and wellness.
Accomplishments: From 2013 – 2015 INL successfully trained over 1,000 officers and 200 commanders of the National Police and National Guard on proper crowd control techniques, in addition to certifying 28 Tunisian trainers who have gone on to train over 700 additional officers. In addition, INL helped create the first ever women’s police association in Tunisia, creating a sustainable mechanism to promote inclusion and to build the professionalism of women police throughout the country.
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, with plans to launch system wide shortly. INL provided training to prison leaders and mid-level management on best practices in corrections management, command and control, offender management, and alternative sentencing systems. Additionally, through INL assistance, the first Tunisian probation office was established in Sousse in 2016. The office oversaw 892 conditional release cases, 305 community services cases, and 22 juvenile cases in 2017—with a recidivism rate of less than 5 percent.
INL’s assistance through the United Nations Development Programme to the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Agency built its capacity to deter, detect, and punish acts of corruption committed since 1987. This project has trained more than 200 governmental and non-governmental practitioners in Tunisia on various anti-corruption themes, as well as supported key government stakeholders to formulate new anti-corruption bills addressing asset declaration, conflict of interest, and whistleblower protection.