Police Corruption in Tunisia: Who Are You Supposed to Trust when the Police Fabricate Crimes Against You

A couple in Tunisia were stopped by a police patrol one night with the man taken to a nearby ATM in an attempt to extort money, while the other officers raped the woman in the back of the patrol car.  When confronted about the allegations, the police claimed the couple were found in an “immoral” position and charged the couple with Indecency, a charge that carries a six-month prison sentence.  Protesters have vehemently voiced their outrage and rightfully so, who can the public trust when the police not only rape and extort the people they are sworn to protect, but also fabricate crimes to deflect attention?

 

Every person, regardless of their country of origin, deserves to have a police department that they trust to protect them.  When the police are free to concoct a story in order to protect themselves it destroys any semblance of trust in that department.  Furthermore, what does it say about the justice system that they will charge a couple with a crime based solely on an officers account without any evidence?

 

Without evidence of a crime, an innocent person can be thrown in jail without any protections from the government.  It is important to realize that the couple’s habeas corpus rights were violated the instant they were detained for Indecency.  What amount of power does the word of the police officer carry in the eyes of the court?  In my opinion, regardless of the position of the person alleging a crime, there must be a minimum amount of evidence that supports a probable cause the crime was committed.  Police officers, while the protectors of the law, are not above it and still must show probable cause that a crime has been committed.

 

If the facts of this case were extended to ordinary citizens, anyone could get a person they disliked thrown in jail based on a lie.  Cases like the one in Tunisia point out the flaws in the justice system and the dangers of placing too much power in the words of the police department.  However, is there a different way?  How can the justice system work without placing trust in the police?

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPH: Turner.com

4 comments

  1. I do not believe a justice system can function without a police force. The police are needed to bring offenders into the system so they can be tried and, when guilty, sentenced. But when the police begin to abuse their power it must be stopped so as to prevent it from spreading. Part of the problem is the corruption comes on the heels of a revolution but I think the government is taking the best approach; removing the corrupt police. However, I think the article in the Los Angeles Times is also correct the country needs reform on women’s rights. Closing holes in the public policy would make police officers thinks twice before victimizing the public.

  2. The bigger problem here is the juxtaposition of corruption of people who are in positions of power and the laws on the books of these countries such as “immorality”. The police force in this story is able to get away with arresting this couple because that charge of immorality is so subjective and, in my opinion, unfair. It also creates a stigma on this couple, especially the woman, that will be carried with her. The greater ramifications beyond what they already went through is they will now be ostracized from their family and potentially sit in jail for a very long time.
    While the United State’s system of justice is nowhere near perfect, and corruption of police officers is not an uncommon occurrence, we benefit from not having laws on our books anymore that try to regulate moral behavior such as this immorality law. While religion of course seeps into our justice system, from the death penalty to gay rights to abortion, it does not dominate. Could you imagine the U.S. police officers going around arresting every couple who are doing “immoral” things? Our court system is already jam packed.
    We also have the media. The LA Times article notes that the government uses this immorality law to quiet critics, including the newspapers and bloggers. Our greatest right in this country is the 1st amendment. Regardless of the limits that are sometimes placed on it, we still are able to express our minds much more than most other nations in the world. That is something we have to triumph and also try to shed light on other nations that tear down the rights of their citizens such as the case here.

  3. I agree with Zack that no justice system can work without trust in the police. However, this is assuming the justice system itself is not corrupt, and indeed wants to actually promote justice. Since the revolution and the new government that has come into place, some officers from the previous authoritarian regime are still on duty, and perhaps they do not understand that a change has occurred, or –worse- they do not care. I think this is an issue that needs to be looked into, and those officers “left over” from the former government need to either be trained in the proper ways of ensuring justice and what is right or wrong, or those officers need to be taken out of positions of authority. Second, I think that the new government needs to get rid of immortality crimes such as “indecency,” which have been used to quiet those who speak out against government. The third issue that this case brings up is the fact that charges are being handed out to people to discourage and frighten those individuals from reporting police abuse. I think the new regime needs to make clear that police abuse will not be tolerated, and I think the fact that the officers were arrested shows this change. I think once these three issues are addressed by the Tunisian government, faith in the Tunisian police force should increase.

  4. Police use of excessive force, especially deadly force, corruption and other misconduct hurts everyone – especially the police — in terms of lost cooperation, support and trust – which, in turn, diminishes their effectiveness. That’s the reality. Now what? To learn how to confront and prevent it, see, “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com). And my blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com.

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