All prisoners are entitled to spend at least one hour a day in the open air
Refusal to take part in the daily walk is a disciplinary offence. Most prisoners are locked in their dormitory for the rest of the day.
Access to the exercise yard (aria) is taken in turn, in the morning or in the afternoon.
The yard has taps and a basin for washing clothes. It is sometimes equipped with a basketball basket and a games table.1
Ministry of Justice, INPT, CoE, “Guide du prisonnier en Tunisie”, November 2019, p. 60. ↩
The prison service offers activities to prisoners
in some facilities
The Prisons Act allows access to number of activities:
- A daily walk of at least one hour
- The library
- Cultural and sporting activities
- Paid work (only for convicted prisoners)
In practice, the activities take place very infrequently. Reasons given include lack of financial resources, overcrowding and strict security procedures. Only a small number of prisoners have access to the activities. Many accounts mention the use of corruption in order to benefit from them.
There are designated places for physical activities and sports
The Mornaguia prison has many sports facilities (multi-disciplinary sports hall, small football pitches etc.). It is considered to be the best-equipped prison in the country. In practice, prisoners rarely have access to these facilities.
Between 2018 and 2019, the DGPR built sports fields in the Sfax, Mahdia and Borj Eroumi prisons. Six facilities are equipped with basketball courts, in collaboration with the Tunisian Basketball Federation.
Prison facilities have a library
Prisoners can take out loans every two weeks. Relatives can also bring books during visits.
Work is compulsory
Number and percentage of prisoners who work
The administration explains that the low number of jobs is due to the country’s unstable economy.
All prisoners are allowed to work
People in pre-trial detention do not have access to work.
The few jobs offered are in the general service sector, agricultural work , carpentry and metal construction. The general service sector mainly consists of:
- Maintenance of common areas
- Meal preparation
- Order processing at the prison store
Mornaguia prison is equipped with large workshops (carpentry, ironwork, printing, etc.) in which qualified prisoners can work. This activity is low paid and reserved for convicted prisoners with the administration’s approval.
There are three semi-open prisons: El Houareb, Mahdia and Oudhna. These prisons accommodate prisoners convicted of misdemeanours. They have agricultural skills. Some inmates who do not meet these criteria are placed there because of overcrowding in other facilities.
Maximum daily/weekly working hours are set, including at least one day of rest
48 hours is the legal maximum duration of work per week.
Prisoners are paid for their work
Salary is paid on a daily basis, from 2.5 to 3.5 dinars (0.87 to 1.22 USD). A portion of the salary is withheld and returned to the prisoner upon release.
significantly below the national minimum wage
Their income is subject to social contributions
Health and safety standards applicable outside are respected in prison
Education and vocational training
Prisoners enrolled in educational training
Twenty-one prisoners have taken an academic examination in 2018-2019.
Education is available for all prisoners
The Ministry of Justice promotes educational activities in prisons. Half of prisoners have a level of education less than or equal to primary school. Prisoners who wish to enrol in academic or vocational training must submit a written application to the prison management. They take the prisoner’s engagement and behaviour into account.
Prisoners are allowed to pass diplomas and entry examinations
Number and percentage of prisoners enrolled in vocational training
Vocational training is provided
The administration offers training courses in the following areas: goldsmithery, patchwork, hairdressing, styling, sewing, electricity, carpentry, tapestry, painting, leatherwork, horticulture, baking, ironwork and farming.1
Ministry of Justice, INPT, CoE, “Guide du prisonnier en Tunisie”, November 2019, p. 63. ↩
Vocational training is available for all prisoners
Prisoners between 18 and 25 years of age have priority access to vocational training. These are available to both pre-trial prisoners and convicted people.
Prisoners submit a written request to the prison management. In practice, vocational training is accessible to a small number of prisoners.
Access to information
Prisoners are allowed to keep themselves informed regularly on public affairs
Prisoners have access to a television
The televisions are located above the entrance door to the dormitory. Only Tunisian channels selected by the administration and channels broadcasting documentary and sports programmes are permitted. The TV must be switched off at midnight by the dormitory head or their deputy.
Prisoners have access to a radio
Prisoners have access to the press
Newspapers can be bought from the commissary or brought in by relatives.
The prison service allows access to Internet
The religion most represented in detention is Islam, like in the rest of the Tunisian population.
Prisoners are free to practice their religion and follow their beliefs
Christian and Jewish prisoners can seek outside spiritual assistance.
Dedicated places of worship are available
The collective practice of worship is not permitted. There are no prayer rooms or chaplaincies in the prisons. Calls to prayer and the wearing of qamis1 are prohibited. Praying is permitted in the dormitory. Everyone is allowed to have a prayer mat. Religious books are available in the libraries.[^guide]
‘Qamis’ or ‘kamis’ is a long garment traditionally worn by Muslim men. ↩
There are chaplains in the prisons
Representatives of religious faiths (Muslim, Christian, Jewish etc.) can go to prison and hold meetings and conferences. No space is provided for this purpose.
Individuals or organisations from the outside are allowed to participate in prison activities
External involvement has increased since 2011. This is coordinated for the purposes of monitoring prison conditions, supporting prison reform or assisting prisoners.
Authorisations for external actors to take part in prison activities are provided by
the prison governor
Numerous associations offer cultural activities (painting and theatre workshops etc.) and professional training. These activities are not widespread in all penitentiary facilities. There is no clear and standardised framework for cooperation with the DGPR.
The main organisations working in prisons are:
- The International Committee of the Red Cross (since 2005): visits to prisoners and improvement of detention conditions
- Penal Reform International (since 2014): improvement of detention conditions and reintegration programmes
- The international organisations of the United Nations system (OHCHR, UNODC and UNICEF) carry out missions to monitor prison conditions and advise on prison reform.
Prisoners are allowed to make use of financial resources
Financial resources are accessible
in the form of vouchers
Prisoners do not have cash. Their family can deposit money at the institution’s accountant’s office during visits. They can also send the money by ‘money order’. Prison currency, in the form of vouchers, allows prisoners to make purchases from the commissary. Most purchases are made collectively by dormitory, through the dormitory head.
Destitute prisoners receive financial or in-kind support
The Prisons Act provides assistance to destitute prisoners on release from prison.
Expression of prisoners
Prisoners are allowed to discuss matters relating to their conditions of imprisonment
Petitions and collective claims are prohibited.
Prisoners have the right of association
Prisoners have the right to vote
yes, convicted prisoners depending on the offence and/or sentence
A restriction of civil rights may be imposed on prisoners with sentences of more than five years (Article 5 of the Code Pénal). Statutory prohibition of rights is established for sentences exceeding ten years (Article 30). The administration does not provide for the installation of ballot boxes inside penitentiary facilities during elections. All prisoners are, effectively, deprived of their right to vote.[^manual]