The Home Secretary’s dirty laundry is being washed in public

The issue of unions set up by the police has been the subject of several controversies since 2011. Several actors on the political scene had criticized this situation and over the past few years have believed that the security unions represented a public danger and that they were breaking the law under the pretext of their capacities as trade unionists and police officers. Other politicians and public figures avoid the subject for fear of clashing with unionists who have gone so far as to refuse to appoint a minister, block legal proceedings against peers or even oppose a comedy show. In fact, in early August, the union of internal security forces (SFSI) – The Sfax section had not only interrupted the show Lotfi Abdullahibut also called on all unions to no longer secure the latter’s services. The association had justified its decision with the speech, which was considered insufficient on the part of an artist and undermines the institutions of the state. The union considered it able to assess artistic works and censor or ban them.

What no one had expected was that this was the first step in the conflict between the power on the ground and the Minister of the Interior. Taoufik Charfeddinlaw enforcement unions. that SFSI and several other union structures had agreed to join their efforts to put an end to the tour lots Abdeli. The latter had insinuated that he enjoyed the support of the authorities on the ground, the Ministry of the Interior and agents not connected to the unions. Two other elements have intensified the crisis between the power on the ground and the unions: Lthe intention of the President of the Republic, Kaïs Said to gather the unions under a single structure called the “General Union of Internal Security Forces” and the Ministry of the Interior’s announcement of the suspension of automatic deductions of social contributions in favor of the security unions. that SFSI has in response initiated sit in in several strategic locations such as police precincts or the airport i Tunis-Carthage. Armed with tents and chairs, the police went placed in front of several buildings with the intention of camping there until an agreement is reached that meets their expectations. Taoufik Charfeddin decided to continue his war against the unions by ordering the unionists out by force if necessary. It must also be said that the unionists attacked the Home Minister and members of his family, especially his son, on social networks, which must have irritated the minister even more.

Thus we were treated to a few shoves at the level of the airport car park Tunis-Carthage and the forced dismantling of the tent despite attempts by some police officers to hold on to it. But, the most surprising sight was these confrontations between police officers in Sfax. On one side, unionists were shirtless and using their t-shirts as balaclavas, throwing stones and other projectiles. They had blocked the road by throwing up barriers and overturning the police booth in front of the building. HAVE next to them was a burning tent that lit up the parking lot. On the other hand, police in uniforms using water cannons, tear gas and armored vehicles. A night video shows the chaotic situation where the region’s police circle was brought down. It looked like one of the scenes from the movie “Black Hawk Down” or “Saving Private Ryan”! It was later discovered that the unionists were also armed with paralyzing gas. On 23 September 2022, eight trade unionists were arrested following the opening of an investigation. This confrontation surely marked the point of no return in this conflict!

A few days later, premises of SFSI was attacked by the police. The Ministry of the Interior announced that the closure of the union’s headquarters was the result of the enforcement of a court decision that was made in favor of the owner of the building following a complaint in summary proceedings. The same source stated that the execution took place under ordinary circumstances and in the presence of representatives of both parties to the dispute. The ministry clarified that the property consisted of two apartments: the first was run by the union as its headquarters. The other was used by one of the association’s board members. But, what should have been a simple execution of a court order turned into a set of revelations. We found ourselves in the middle of a story that should theoretically be closer to fiction than reality. ETorsionsaggression, extortion, banditry and non-compliance with the law: all the essential ingredients for a good mafia movie were there.

A video leaked revealed that the police forces got their hands on the net sum of 600 thousand dinars during the execution of the decision to close the premises to SFSI. The video went around the web. Several people have wondered about the origin of this money. The spokesman for SFSIChokri Hamada, assured that these are daily expenses, part of which will be used to pay employees and lawyers and the other to finance the protest movements that the union is planning. However, current legislation completely prohibits cash transactions of this magnitude or possession of such a sum of money in cash. Cash payments have been limited to 5,000 dinars since 2019. However, the costs of lawyers or organizing demonstrations can easily exceed 5,000 dinars. In addition, associations, unions and other similar non-profit organizations have no right to receive or hold sums of money of more than 500 dinars in cash!

Following the poignant testimony from the building owner’s lawyer, Nawel ToumiSeptember 28, 2022 on Mosaïque FM made us discover another hidden face of the Home Office’s dirty laundry. The lawyer revealed that the verdict to evacuate the building was aimed at SFSI had been stated since 2014 and that trade unionists had repeatedly stated that they did not fear the law due to their status as trade unionists and law enforcement agencies. She explained that unionists have on various occasions attacked the owner of the building, legal experts, police officers Roast.My client has been unable to operate his property since 2012. When he went twice to the building, he was the target of an attack… An officer reached for his service weapon as a threat… The Minister of the Interior had asked Roast to confiscate the meters. The company’s agents were deployed… That Roast informed the Ministry of the Interior about this… Who will pay the bill? No one knows ! Here is a statement collected by a notary on June 30, 2020: “You can’t do anything to us! We do what we want! “, she added.

The lawyer had also revealed that she had been physically and verbally attacked several times by members of SFSI. One of the perpetrators of this attack was the union’s treasurer, Khaled clear and another agent named Mohamed Baldy. She also explained that the latter lived with his family on the second floor of the building. She said several people had come to her office on the pretext of seeking her services and then threatened her. Another person threatened to skin her while she was in court in Ben Excited. During a visit in the company of a bailiff and a colleague, she was seized inside the building by trade unionists. They insulted him and tried to attack him, he said.

Navel Toumi also explained that the national authorities were aware of all these excesses and criminal acts, either before or after 25 July 2021. She had sent dozens of appeals and letters to several high-ranking officials, especially to the Presidency of the Republic, the Presidency of the Government or the Parliamentary Commission for the Administration and the Armed Forces. The lawyer lodged a complaint after the abuse she was subjected to. The inspector interviewed her and the agents on the scene explained to her informally what the situation was complicated because of the police officers’ union status. The lawyer believed that the Ministry of the Interior could not control the trade unionists.

The lawyer concluded his testimony with: There is a difference between the ordinary policeman and the federal policeman “. A sentence that sums up the complexity of the situation and the seriousness of the current situation of our police. The unions have become an entity that threatens the state or presents itself as a state within the state. Law enforcement reform is becoming increasingly urgent and necessary. Unfortunately, the absence of stability and political cohesion at the national level leaves the field open to the exploitation of this conflict and prevents any attempt to move things forward. The impotence of the state institutions, which have not reacted earlier, even consciously, shows the need to gather efforts and consolidate them with the aim of ensuring the maintenance of social peace and preserving what is left of our supposedly republican police.

Sophie Ghoubantini

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