The Prison Break Effect

Within the security community in Tunisia, there is a clear consensus that petty, street, and so called low-level crimes are on the rise.  The theories as to why this is the case vary but one thing is clear; the recent prison breaks are not going to help the situation. 

Prison Escapes Update

Date: January, 2011

Intel:  Some 11,000 inmates escaped from Tunisian prisons shortly after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile. Of those, several thousand have been caught and nearly 2,000 turned themselves in after the Justice Ministry warned the escape could worsen their cases, TAP reported.

Source:  The Canadian Press

Date: April 29, 2011

Intel:  More than 800 inmates escaped on Friday from two Tunisian prisons after fires were set in cells, the official news agency said.


Date: May 5, 2011

Intel:  More than 100 inmates escaped on Thursday from a  Tunisian prison located in

Source:  Local Tunisian

Local Impact

There is no doubt that we need to be extra careful in terms of situational awareness especially in the La Marsa and Carthage area.  The question is:  How can we increase our security vigilance while trying to live a ‘normal’ life?  We all want to enjoy the beautiful Tunisian weather and all the great things that Tunisia has to offer, but we can not ignore that the security situation is questionable at best.

Although common sense and a positive mental attitude help, we need to take extra precautions in our day-to-day activities.

Road Awareness

Tunisian check points are so common place that we automatically comply with them without question.  This attitude is not risky when it comes to uniformed law enforcement, but it is not the best approach when dealing with ‘plain clothes civilians’ who may set up unauthorized road blocks for malevolent purposes.

As you make your way around town keep in mind that “Tunisian city police (gray blue uniforms) and Garde Nationale (green and khaki uniforms) are the only two institutions that have the legal right to carry out the inspection of documents on vehicles.”  Know your rights and always have your vehicle documents in order.  This will in turn give you more confidence and peace of mind in your day to day driving activities.

Use common sense and listen to your intuition, if something tells you there’s something wrong with the check point listen to yourself; better to be fined than to be in a very unsafe situation.

Putting the pieces together…

So far a trend is starting to emerge.  We need to understand the implications of these ‘accidental prison breaks’ and their implications on the larger security situation in Tunisia.  Let us not forget that we are still in a sensitive situation as this country gets ready for their first real elections since 1956 and understand that these ‘accidents’ may point to a greater problem…

“In politics,nothing happens by accident.  If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”-Franklin D. Roosevelt

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