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 path toward advancing its democracy. In 2014, Tunisia held its first post-revolutionary presidential and parliamentary elections and finalized a new constitution through a consultative process. A second round of successful elections followed in 2019, further solidifying Tunisia’s dedication to democratic governmental reform. However, challenges remain; in particular, domestic terrorism threats and spillover effects of civil war in Libya, which have significant societal and economic effects on Tunisia. The first line of defense against these threats is often the civilian National Police and National Guard, which require additional training, equipment, and technical assistance to respond to these evolving threats. Furthermore, an increased number of criminal cases, as well as a surge in the number of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, continue to overwhelm 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 and high recidivism rates.
Goals: The Tunisian civilian security establishment is committed to transforming 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 can address security challenges and protect the rights of the Tunisian people. INL’s strategy in Tunisia is to promote professionalization and reform efforts across the chain of justice for the police, justice sector, and prison system. INL complements this assistance with more immediate-term efforts to bolster basic skills and capabilities through training and equipment.
INL assistance enhances the Tunisian law enforcement’s capacity to deliver citizen-oriented policing, while protecting human rights.
In the justice sector, INL works to strengthen judicial integrity and independence 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 supports the recent reform of the Tunisian criminal procedure code to reinforce the rights of detainees through training and technical assistance and is improving access to justice through improved court administration and case management.
INL assistance strengthens Tunisia’s corrections system to ensure offenders serve out their sentences without further criminality under humane conditions, while implementing community corrections principles such as educational and skills training programs and parole to enable successful social reinsertion. Finally, INL supports both the U.S. and Tunisia’s Strategies
on Women, Peace, and Security by assisting the Tunisian criminal justice sector in effectively implementing its law on violence against women, training officers to appropriately respond to cases of sexual and gender-based violence through the community policing techniques, and recruiting and retaining female law enforcement officers to reflect the makeup of the communities for which they serve.
- 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 to provide professional civilian security.
- INL helped create the first ever women’s police association in Tunisia, which established a sustainable mechanism to promote inclusion and to build the professionalism of women police throughout the country.
- In corrections 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, which is currently undergoing updates in preparation for nationwide implementation.
- Additionally, through INL assistance, the first parole office in Tunisia was established in Sousse in 2016. In 2017, the office oversaw 892 conditional release cases, 305 community services cases, and 22 juvenile cases — with a recidivism rate of less than five percent. The success of this office catalyzed an ongoing effort to expand the parole system to include seven additional INL-supported parole offices, as well as a coordination office and parole board. To increase efficient access to justice, INL works closely with the courts to develop information technology systems and internal processes that streamline court administration and filing procedures, significantly reducing the time it takes to retrieve and archive files.