Report from the First Training Session for the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units on Human Rights, Law Enforcement, Communication, and Conflict Resolution

1. Foreword:

Tunisian Institutional Reform organized its first training session for the officers of General Administration of Intervention Units in collaboration with the General Administration’s Syndicate of Intervention Units’ Officers in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Never before had a Tunisian civil society organization held such a training for security forces, and this training therefore added new dynamics to the relationship between security forces and citizens. The training session consisted of lectures, panel discussions, and workshops designed to enable intervention unit officers to acquire the fundamentals of human rights, and to improve their relationship with citizens in the context of law enforcement. The training session lasted for 5 consecutive days (from April 29  to May 4, 2013) and took place in the training Center of Bouchoucha. The Syndicate of the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units the trainees’ decided the selection criteria and chose participants from lower ranked police leaders from various regions of the country. This session was the first training in a series of workshops arranged by Tunisian Institutional Reform for police officers aiming to reform and to develop the security sector in order to establish a democratic and sustainable police force.

2. General goal:

  • Developing the skills of the officers of General Administration of Intervention Units, not only in the field of communication, but also in the fundamentals of law enforcement mechanisms in accordance with human rights
  • Establishing a democratic security sector will effectively contribute to the Tunisian transition to peace and democracy

3. Specific goal:

  • Building awareness among the officers of General Administration of Intervention Units
  • Helping them to acquire the human rights norms and culture of a democratic security sector, and facilitate the implementation of these norms into the Tunisian context

4. General program of the training session:

This training session was a vital component in Tunisian Institutional Reform’s efforts to develop the security system. The workshop included the following topics and components:

  • Human Rights (sources and standards) and law enforcement
  • Human Rights: etiquette and dialogue
  • Operational procedures during riot control
  • The use of force and firearms
  • Communication within groups, mass communication, and systematic communication
  • Security in a democratic state
  • Sensory Intelligence: the access to communication and leadership skills
  • Practical exercises on communication
  • Beach football match between security officers and citizens titled: “Football for Reform”
  • Attending the concert of Gultrah Sound System Underground Group in the Alhambra Theatre, La Marsa.

5. Trainers:

Professional specialists in the fields of human rights, communication, media, security, and conflict resolution held lectures, and facilitated panel discussions and workshops:

  • Mr. Anwar Moalla (expert consultant specialized in communication).
  • Mr. Akram Al Khalifa (trainer in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).
  • Mr. Mazen Shaqoura (head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights).

6. Participants:

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Trainees:

  1.      Moez Almouelhi
  2.      Faysal Alzakrawi
  3.      Jalal Bayyar
  4.     Abd Majid boughdiri
  5.     Jalal Alaabed
  6.     Faraj hamad
  7.     Adel arrizki
  8.     Noureddine Alouni
  9.     Kais Alzoghlami
  10.     Chafik Acharaabi
  11.     Hicham Assilliti
  12.     Ridha Alabbasi
  13.     Karim Assayyari
  14.     Boudhraa Almiilawi
  15.     Wahid Alhafsi
  16.     Khamis Abd Alaali
  17.     Mehrez Almathlouthi

Supervisors and Coaches (Syndicate members):

  • Mahdi Achawech
  • Almonji Twatti
  • Abdeljalil Alkhadhri

Supervisors of the training from Tunisian Institutional Reform:

  • Haifa Baachaoui
  • Feryel Charfeddine
  • Issam Mzoughi

7. Opening training session works:

Mr. Chaouech Mehdi (as a general supervisor) and Mr. Touati Mongi from the “Syndicate of the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units” held opening speeches where they introduced this special training and the opportunity it offers to develop and to improve the relationship between civil society and the security institution. They explained how this session was initiated by Tunisian Institutional Reform in collaboration with the syndicate, to help the security officers eliminate daily pressures and develop their capacity to achieve optimal communication with the citizens when enforcing the law concerning human rights. In the subsequent intervention, Mr Bouguerra from “Reform” presented the organization “Reform” and the training and its objective, and focused especially on the respect for human rights (in ordinary police work). In order to break the ice between participants, Mr Anouar Moalla, asked some questions such as: What do you expect from the training? What kind of problems do you face at work? Did you know each other before? All these attempts contributed to making the trainees more comfortable with each other and in harmony with the training atmosphere.

8. Summary of the training session workshops:

First day :

The main purpose of Mr Anouar Moualla’s first presentation was to provide tools necessary to understand the basic principles and standards of communication. The trainer focused on the following aspects:

  • Understanding the basic patterns (verbal / non-verbal communication and dialects, signs and symbols ,etc) related to group and mass communication
  • Learning how to control the outcome of rumors and control their risks
  • Accommodation of the concept of communication from a strategic and global perspective distinguishing between institutional and operational communication, communication via media and communication outside media
  • Determining communication with the public interest and understanding the similarities between social marketing and commercialization
  • Understanding violence mechanisms during election periods

In the second intervention, Mr. Akram Khalifa focused on the principles of ethical behavior and legal status of the police force in democracies. He also presented human rights sources and standards and how they should be implemented in law enforcement. Furthermore, Mr. Khalifa explained how to deal correctly with human rights in police interventions, based on three fundamental documents: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the code of conduct for law enforcement officials. Together with international treaties and conventions ratified by the Tunisian state, these primary documents add obligations for the state. The interaction between the trainer and participants was helpful because it produced concrete examples from the security officers’ daily work illustrating their relationship with citizens, journalists, and politicians.

Second day:

In the first part of the second day, Mr. Mazen Chaqoura presented the basic principles of the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials. During the second part, the police officers participated in a practical exercise on how to use force without violating human rights in different situations such as: theft, demonstrations, riots, provocation, etc.

Third day:

Professor Anouar Moualla presented the complex relationships between public authorities and civil society, the media and the people (the beneficiaries of civil rights). These relationships were illustrated through a practical exercise where each person described a case he experienced and where he believed he performed well and dealt with in a professional way.

Fourth day:

Mr. Anouar Moualla directed a workshop on the basics of negotiation and communication and how to deal with large crowds (the protesters, demonstrators, football fans, etc…). Then, he facilitated a roleplay where he divided the participants into two groups. One group played the role of demonstrators and protesters who cut off the road to a factory in their village and shut its doors in an attempt to protest bad conditions, or poor administrative behavior and decisions. Another smaller group played the role of intervention teams (with the aim to break up the sit-in or disperse the demonstration).

The security force group communicated well and ran a debate with the protester group. Moreover, when negotiating, the security officers were mindful of human rights principles. In the evening, trainees were invited to attend a concert of an underground music band (Gultrah Sound System) in the Alhambra Theatre La Marsa. The purpose of the visit was to show the security officers the special atmosphere created by the young performers and their audience, to communicate with them, and understand their perspectives. Tunisian Institutional Reform attempted to help security officers understand the mentality of young people and learn that the criticism they address to the “Police” is not against the police itself. As a result, when security officers understand the mentality of this segment of Tunisian society, they would be able to deal with them professionally, without any preconceived or false prejudices.

Fifth day:

Professor Anwar Moalla’s facilitated a session about the concept of sensory intelligence, communication, the concept of conflict, and how to resolve disputes without violating human rights. At the end of the fifth and final day, Tunisian Institutional Reform distributed an evaluation form where participants could identify weaknesses that should be avoided and strengths to be maintained and developed. “Reform” collected the recommendations and suggestions of security officers in order to help its team develop the content of the training project and improve its logistics and administration. Reform also organized a beach soccer match in the evening to improve the relationship between the security officers and citizens, and to break the barrier between them. Security officers from the training sessions and youth from popular neighborhoods in Tunis participated in the match titled “Soccer For Reform”. To fulfill the goal of rapprochement between the two groups, each competing teams consisted of both citizens and security officers. The matches created a fraternal atmosphere and encouraged free communication and discussion, and mutual respect between the citizens and the security officers.

Tunisian Institutional Reform believe the “Soccer For Reform” activity succeeded making the security officers more mindful about their relationship with citizens. Raising awareness and facilitating rapprochement and dialogue between security officers and citizens are among Tunisian Institutional Reform’s main approaches for reforming the security sector. Repeating this activity and presenting it in regional and national fora on security sector reform may create opportunities to re-establish the citizens’ trust in the security apparatus. After the game (score: 1-1), “Reform” organized a closing ceremony for the first training session for the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units in collaboration with the syndicate. Mr. Msekni Abdelwahed (adviser to the Minister of Interior), Mr. Hossein Mourad (representative from the administration of Northern Tunisia(, Mr. Kchaw Lasaad (Secretary-General of the “Syndicate of the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units”), and Mr. Bouguerra Bassem (head of Tunisian Institutional Reform) attended the ceremony. Finally, “Reform” distributed certificates of participation in order to thank the trainees for their focus, discipline, and positive interaction during the training session. Similarly, the “Syndicate of the Officers of General Administration of Intervention Units” provided certificates of gratitude to Reform Organization in recognition of the effort put forth in the organization and the success of the training session and its valuable contribution to the development of the security system.

9. Evaluation and recommendations

Satisfaction percentage of each participant:

The percentage of satisfaction ranged between 70 and 95 percent.

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  •  Average Percent of participant satisfaction:

The average percentage was approximately 82%

Strengths

The training session succeeded in:

  • Simplifying the concept of human rights
  • Helping the participants understand the concept of community police and dialogue with citizens
  • Providing participants with methods of law enforcement for democratic societies
  • Changing the participants’ view of the civil society actors
  • Reducing the gap between security officers (the participants) and citizens

The discussions and communication between security officers and citizens during the training sessions inspired the participants and convinced them about the necessity and feasibility of security sector reform and improvement of the relationship between security officers and citizens.

Weaknesses

  • Some administrative and logistical weaknesses (location of training, delayed invitation of participants, lack of program in the evenings)
  • Absence of female participants
  • Lack of cultural activities during the evenings

Recommendations

The suggestions of security officers (participating in the training session):

  • Organizing training sessions for leaders (as the source of instructions)
  • Organizing training sessions for new young security officers (because they lack of experience and because these young security officers are the image of the future of security officers

10. Appendixes

The participants rated their satisfaction and their appreciation of this training session to approximately 82/100. They gave the following feedback and suggestions for improvement:

  • Organizing similar training sessions for High Security Leaders responsible for the decisions in order to establish a sort of harmony between them and security officers
  • Regarding regulation: The training space should be close to residence location or even inside. Avoiding the invitation of participants a day or two prior to the start of the training session
  • Regarding the content:
    • Organizing a program entitled “Diary of a security officer” in order to observe security officers not only when working but also when being within their families
    • Organizing panel discussions between security officers, citizens, and the media
    • Organizing awareness campaigns to emphasize the respect of security officers by citizens