Running head: Police corruption
Mediterranean School of Business
Maintaining the order in the city was the first concern of King Louis XIV when he first created “Lieutenant general of police” bringing out the concept of early modern Police in 1667 in Paris. Cities started to grow in terms of population and it was necessary for governments to employ officers that are trained to ensure peace for citizens. Which resulted in spreading the idea of policing around the world and led to an evolution throughout history. The united states of America now spend each year 100 billion dollars on policing considering it as a crucial sector for maintaining the safety of its citizens and reducing the high crime level. It is a very noble job that requires many sacrifices and courage. Police officers make an oath never to betray their badges, integrity, character or the public trust. They swear to apply the constitution and to stay loyal to their countries. Throughout history, a part of policemen all around the world have been quite often related to corruption, as they tend to excess their authority. Police corruption comes in different forms; it may refer to the excessive violence used towards minorities or getting involved in affairs where officers have illegal financial profit or other different forms of law abuse. One of the countries in which police corruption represents a remarkable issue is Tunisia. Actually the fact that an important sample of people do not trust such entity like police, which is supposed to ensure the safety of the citizens and bring justice to them, must be corrected. In fact this corruption has social and economic consequences, multiple causes and potential solutions.
Beginning from the 90’s, when Tunisia was under the regime of Ben Ali, Corruption has started to become a standard in the Tunisian citizen’s life. Which gradually started to cause inacceptable encroachments especially when it comes to public sectors like police, although its role is undeniable and unquestionable in securing citizens’ lives and ensuring peace in Tunisian cities. A case that has recently been a shock for the Tunisian people is the death of Omar Laabidi, 19 years old, supporter of a Tunisian football club. The incident happened after the game which took place at the stadium of Rades, Tunis between two Tunisian clubs on the 31th Mai 2018, during which some confrontations happened between police and some supporters. His body was retrieved from the valley, 3 kilometers away from the stadium. On the next day his family filed a claim against the Tunisian police to know the truth behind the death of their son accusing the order forces to be the first responsible for the death of Omar. Many testimonies from Omar’s friends that were near him just a few minutes before his death state that they were chased for 3 kilometers till they arrived to the valley where Omar could not any more escape and tried to surrender himself and told the officers that he could not swim which they did not believe. He was told to learn how to swim and forced him to jump into the valley where he died. The problem is that no one was arrested for this crime for more than a year now. Despite evidences and testimonies that confirm what happened, the case is till now unsolved and there is no sign that the government will move to bring justice to his family. Investigations into police corruption and abuse, done by the governments’ authorities lack transparency. Police corruption causes public mistrust of police making it more difficult for them to do their jobs. People now not only do not trust police forces but also have no faith in the judicial system which is not fair in their eyes. A serious result of police corruption is weakening ethical standards in society. When the public thinks that police is benefiting from corruption, it will make them lose their standards and as a result be more involved in low-breaking behaviors. It also hurts the reputation of the country when evidences exist on compliance of police officers with drug dealers and criminals.
Police corruption also involves the violence that Tunisian citizens go through in their daily life from police officers. Shocking videos are recorded from stadiums in Tunisia that show extreme violence towards football spectators .The behavior that the officers show can be explained by many circumstances historically. Due to the ancient regimes that implemented the idea of dictatorship and superiority in police so that people fear to demand their rights. Before the 2011 revolution many aggressions happened in police station. Many cases of torture happened for those who tried to express freely their minds or persons that may represent a threat for the ancient governments. Police treats citizens with so much disrespect especially when they break law. They discriminate between poor and rich people. Because they have mutual interest. Some people are immune to the law and protected by police.
Economically, police corruption has heavy consequences and is one of the reasons of the economic crisis. Actually, when dealing with the Tunisian police businesses face a high risk of corruption. A research called GCB has shown that the police are ranked amongst the most corrupt institution is Tunisia as one in for persons considers it to be dishonest and that there are bribe issues (2015). Actually two thirds of the companies do not trust the reliability of police to secure their buildings and to apply law and often rely on private security companies to ensure their safety from crimes. One of the most important reasons of the economic crisis is the parallel economy also defined as the contrabands that illegally transport products through borders. It was necessary for the government in 2018 to start an anti-corruption war which started with trying to eliminate the smuggling. Smugglers can potentially come from the boarders south from Libya, west from Algeria or even in ports through shipments from all around the world. The products are either oil for a cheaper price or electronic devices that are reported stolen or any good that will be later sold but without the government benefiting from it because it was illegally imported. Bribery have been a dangerous threat for the Tunisian economy for years now as some officers manage to let smugglers pass their goods in exchange for money. Which hurts the economy as people tend to buy the smuggled goods because of their low prices. Apart from that, police agents are sometimes linked to blackmail cases. Two agents were sentenced in February 2018 to 26 years of jail because of confirmed blackmail accusations for a restaurant owner. Corruption and bribe represent an issue even for projects and companies operating in Tunisia. According to GAN Integrity, about 10% of the companies are obliged to pay in exchange of import license and estimate that heavy importation procedures are the main obstacles of import activities in Tunisia. There are many explanations why corruption is spread in the sector of police but which do not justify the encroachments that happened or that are still happening.
A Comparison between the average salary of a police officer in Tunisia and in Germany may explain the difference in terms of corruption in both countries. Actually a normal police officer in Tunisia earns about 800 Tunisian dinars monthly which equivalent is about 235 euros. Whereas in Germany the average salary of a policeman is 3541 euros per month, which means thirteen times more. Although it is not a justification of corruption but it is obvious that they will look for illegal sources of money in the absence of the minimum necessities of a human being. Especially with the growing general level of prices and the high inflation rate. Actually police officers have status problem because they are underpaid compared to the power and the authority they have. This corruption is not only the mistake of policemen but it is a collective responsibility that more than one side assumes. Officers do a majority of their work without supervision and with the absence of a manager that makes sure that things are done correctly. Which leads to a feeling of safety even when breaking the law. Especially that police officers have a strong bond with one another and do not reveal the secrets of each other. Some studies cite a blue wall as a code of silence among police officers that does not encourage them to report the misbehavior of one another. Actually, in Tunisia, a police officer is sworn to tell the truth and, in absence of evidence against him, is believed from the judge of a court.
The fact that Police is always in association with law breakers and with crimes with different kinds is a cause of corruption. Because they are always in direct contact with persons that either have access to resources that they can take advantage of or suggest deals to escape with what they did. It is believed by many experts that easy access to uncounted money of drug dealers for example is considered tempting for some officers. Drug dealers are always linked with police corruption as they know about the crime and do not report it in return of a monthly bribe. When recruiting new elements the departments cannot know whether it is a good recruit or not based on his training because the reality is far away from it. On the field police officers maybe subject to dangerous threats that did not exist in the training they had. Because they face dangerous criminals that are willing to do anything to escape being sent to jail. Another difficulty is that despite the investigation done on new police officers, it is not possible to know him and whether he is right for the job or not.
Analysts say that no unique strategy has been sufficient to fight the police corruption. But an important reduction is possible. It is suggested that the creation of an external supervision over the police will result in less corruption. That way they will have less freedom and will be aware that there is someone watching them and that they will be fined or imprisoned for their mistakes or crimes. Also an improvement in the quality of training and recruitment would have certain good impacts on the policing. Police officers should be required to have a certain educational level that allows them to be aware of the impacts that corruption may have on the country. A better environment is demanded in order for police to be able to do their task properly including a better infrastructure and better conditions of work. They need to have better wages, which certainly leads to reducing the bribery issues that is destroying the Tunisian economy and leading to an ethical crisis. Another possible solution can be the implementation of cameras that record what happens during the officers services and that are checked in case of any reclamation to ensure justice.
To sum up, it is certain that not all the police officers are corrupt. Police always had an important role in keeping peace in Tunisia and keeping it safe from any threats like criminals, drug dealers or terrorist. It is undeniable that they have sacrificed for their countries and for the safety of its citizens. However the corruption has so many dangerous consequences socially, economically and even ethically. It can affect the nation’s stability and can cause mistrust between elements of society that are normally unified to ensure the nation peace and the development of the country. This corruption has multiple reasons that are explained from different angles. But it can be solved with honest efforts from multiple components of the society, not only the police. As the war against corruption in Tunisia does not only depend on the government and its sectors, but it is mostly the responsibility of the people who should raise awareness against unethical encroachments. It is necessary for the dream of the Tunisian people of the revolution to succeed.
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