In seamless consistency with the government’s response to the Bardo and Sousse attacks in March and June, official discourse, superficial security measures, and the actions of security forces since last Tuesday’s tragedy reflect the absence of a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and have kept alive the notion that effective security requires the relinquishing of certain rights and liberties.
On the surface, the counterterrorism law of 25 July 2015 appears to introduce innovative measures to address crimes associated with new technologies. A number of these provisions, however, contain flaws including vague definitions, the privilege of immunity granted to investigators, threats to fundamental rights to privacy and access to information, and the exclusion of the National Authority for the Protection of Personal Information from the special commission in the fight against terrorism.
Informal commerce is not limited to one category of merchandise, one geographic region, one demographic; trafficked items include weapons, food products, and gasoline and circulate the country via markets in Ben Guerdane, Kasserine, Sfax, Tunis; smugglers range from merchants of little means to prominent businessmen who are comparatively economically resilient and more likely to withstand trade restrictions imposed at the borders. For many smugglers of lesser means, survival depends upon their ability to navigate a political vision and legal framework which serve neither to sustain nor protect them.
…Everyone, it seemed, was talking about the wall, a trench-lined sand barricade that is to stretch some 200 kilometers along Tunisia’s border with Libya. In the capital, a world away from the country’s borders, conversations are based on hear-say, rumors, and speculation. Approbation, uncertainty, suspicion…the sentiments provoked are varied, though many remain simply baffled at the belated unveiling and precipitous construction of the government’s latest counterterrorism mechanism, a wall between Tunisia and its neighbor to the south-east.
In the minutes and hours following attack transpired the ungracious diffusion on Instagram and Twitter of victims lying lifeless between beach chairs and parasols; dramatized headlines announcing the “beach resort massacre” and innumerable variations recounting the scene … But after the initial shock of and Western media’s knee-jerk reaction to one of three attacks which occurred on June 26, mainstream news reports on terrorism in the country are relatively more substantial and worth contemplating than was the case several months ago.
Currently on the table for discussion in Parliament, Draft Law n°55/2014 concerning the right of access to information continues to make waves. Last week, Reporters without Borders confirmed concerns previously expressed by a number of civil society organizations including IWatch, Touensa, and the LTDH. Analysis.
With war waged against terrorism, questions of ethics and deontology have faded into the background. In the meantime, media treatment of the Bardo Attack is a textbook case of politicization that allows us to measure the ambiguity of relations between media and power. The trigger effect of security discourse has mobilized judiciary and police organs born and bred under a dictatorship that was immune to the threat of terrorism. To what extent can regulations contain this return to normalization?
Integral to Tunisia’s internal security operations is its cooperation with foreign governments. Partnerships with Italy, France, and the United States address national security as well as regional security issues including immigration, trafficking, and terrorism. The operations of G8 Leader countries in the MENA region are (unofficially but observably) distinctive and complementary: Italy oversees migration in the Mediterranean; France via the Ministry of the Interior focuses on national security and the police, and the United States Department of Defense is engaged in a «war on terrorism.»