Tunisia: Jebali Calls for National Comprehensive Vision On Penitentiary System Reform

Tunis — Caretaker Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali underlined Saturday the need to "define a national comprehensive vision for the reform of the Tunisian penitentiary system, which meets the aspirations of the Revolution of freedom and dignity while consecrating the respect of the inmates' dignity."

Opening the works of the International Conference on "Tunisian Prisons: Reality and Prospects", Mr. Jebali explained that the approach adopted in the penitentiary system reform lays on two foundations; the first deals with global reform and the second related to the adoption of the principle of association with all the concerned parties, notably the civil society and the international non-governmental organisations.

He pointed out that the reform of the penitentiary institution requires a set of measures including the promotion of the legislative system in accordance with the international standards, the improvement of basic infrastructure and modernisation of the administration and the management processes. It also requires the promotion of the aptitudes of the penitentiary staff, setting up of training and retraining programmes and habilitation of the inmates in social re-integration.

The Interim PM also underlined the imperative to revise the prison system after the Revolution to clean up the heritage of the former regime, notably the different forms of violation of human rights and torture.

Commending the role of the actors of the civil society and the national and international organisations in backing up the state efforts for the implementation of the required reform, Mr. Jebali underlined the keenness to provide all the required human and material means to the penitentiary institution reform to get it in tune with the international standards in terms of prisoners' treatment.

In turn, Justice Minister Noureddine Bhiri said that the strategic plan set up by the Ministry targets the reform of justice and the penitentiary system and aspires to change the negative image of inmates established by the former regime.

Besides, he placed emphasis on the importance of adopting the alternative sanction, separating cases to preserve the convicted, improving the conditions of prison officers and increasing the recruitment of sentence-enforcement judges.

Thomas Dittmann, Director of Penal Department within the German Justice Ministry explained that his participation in the conference aimed to interact with the Tunisian experiences with a view to improving the situation in the judiciary apparatus as well as the future of Tunisian prisons.

Mr. Dirk Mirow, Director-General of German Foundation for International Legal Co-operation underlined that the collaboration with the Tunisian side is "fruitful", notably through the organisation of several workshops and events.

The challenges in matters of implementing sentences are similar in all countries, "this is why it is necessary to boost co-operation in the judiciary field," he stressed.

Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MEAN) regional Group of the International Organisation for Penal Reform, Taghrid Jabr, considered that the efficiency of the penitentiary system reform depends on the degree of serious of the governmental action programme in matters of political and social reforms for the period to come.

The agenda of the two-day conference includes several lectures on the reality of prison as well as the presentations of foreign experiences namely Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Jordan in matters of penitentiary system reform.

Workshops are also scheduled on Sunday. They will notably turn on the prison overcrowding, infrastructure of the penitentiary system and its restructuring, health in prison and re-integration of inmates.

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