When the regime of Tunisian President Ben Ali was overthrown in January 2011 in what has been called the “Jasmine Revolution,” Tunisia became the first country to experience the “Arab Awakening.” That September, INL began investing in Tunisia, and our goal since then has been to help Tunisia achieve long-term, sustainable change in their criminal justice sector. This has included funding an Anti-Corruption project implemented by the United Nations Development Programme, in-country training, study tours to the United States, along with the provision of equipment and technical assistance. Since 2011 the United States, through INL, has allocated more than $50 million to civilian security assistance in Tunisia.
These programs are generating real, meaningful results. For example, INL provided equipment and crowd-control training for the Tunisian National Police Public Order Brigade in 2014, and later that year the Ministry of Interior deployed these officers during national elections and again more recently when Tunisians took to the streets in early 2016. Commanders used their training to think strategically about how to approach these challenges and how to engage with the protesters. Their training helped ensure that Tunisian citizens could peacefully protest without fear of injury, while the government was able to maintain order.
Our growing partnership with Tunisia’s Directorate General of Prisons and Rehabilitation has led to a pilot program of the first ever prisoner classification system in Tunisia. This has now been deployed in beta tests to three prisons. Separately through INL’s judicial integrity project, judges are creating codes of conduct designed to reduce corruption and increase reports of those abusing their power in the Tunisian court system. These reforms are based on knowledge, resources, and contacts made during an October 2015 study tour in Washington, DC and New Orleans attended by the Chief Justice of the TunisianSupreme Court and nine other high-level justice sector officials.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield visited Tunisia in November 2015 to mark the fourth anniversary of our programs there. His visit included the official launch of INL’s multi-year, multi-million dollar police academy modernization project in Enfidha, scheduled for completion in 2019. This ambitious program will reinforce INL’s goal of helping make Tunisia’s law enforcement training, as he put it, “among the best in the world.”