An amateur video of a Tunisian police officer demanding a forty dinar bribe during a roadside traffic stop, the video shows the officer threatening to impound the driver’s vehicle unless the bribe is paid has circulated on social media and prompted Yasser Mosbeh, the spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, to announce that officer in the video and his colleague had been suspended.
Mosbeh assured that the ‘necessary measures’ would be taken and that victims of this type could file complaints to the Ministry of the Interior who would take action.
Forty TND amounts to approximately 15% of the monthly minimum wage in Tunisia.
Beyond taking complaints up with the Ministry of the Interior itself Tunisia is attempting to establish the mechanisms to make denouncing corruption safer and more effective.
Kamel Ayadi, Minister of Public Service, Governance and Fight against Corruption in hearings at the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP) in mid-May ahead of the submission of a draft whistleblower protection law declared that “the fight against corruption is no less important than the fight against terrorism”. After Prime Minister Habib Essid’s cabinet reviewed the proposed whistleblower protection law at the end of May, the Prime Minister said through a statement that “The bill will, undoubtedly, have a remarkable impact on the administration, the citizens and the civil society.”
Chawki Tabib, president of the National Authority for the Fight against Corruption (known by its French acronym INLCC Instance Nationale de Lutte Contre la Corruption), has while struggling to get the authority appropriate funding levels and a more established legal framework, such as the whistleblower law, has worked to keep the agency in the spotlight. Tabib has warned Tunisia risks becoming a ‘mafia state’ if corruption is not tackled.
The culture of corruption is pervasive and Tabib has found himself fighting on all fronts, Tabib who also testified to the ARP on the whistleblower law reported having his home and car vandalized Tabib has also had to root out corruption in setting up the National Authority for the Fight against Corruption, an employee responsible for the procurement of the Authority’s computers reportedly asked the supplier for a 10% commission before Tabib was alerted and fired the employee and filed a complaint with the Attorney General.
The National Authority for the Fight against Corruption has recently established a toll free hotline to register complaints of corruption along with an awareness campaign and an animated public service announcement ‘Afrah bia’ to announce the hotline.
The National Authority for the Fight against Corruption has also worked with civil society groups such as ‘I-Watch’ the Tunisian chapter of Transparency International.
Transparency’s International’s ‘People and Corruption: Middle East and North Africa Survey 2016‘ Report, which spoke to 10,797 adult respondents from September 2014 to November 2015 was released in May.
Transparency’s survey found that 64 % of Tunisians said corruption has increased a lot or somewhat over the past 12 months and 62 % of Tunisians thought the government was doing ‘badly’ in its efforts to fight corruption.
While 23% of Tunisians thought ‘most of the public sector was corrupt’ against 46% who only thought some of it was and 15% who believed it was clean.
On Transparency’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, released early in 2016, Tunisia ranked 76th out of 168 countries.