ILF Launches New Country Program in Tunisia
The ILF is happy to announce that it has launched a new country program in Tunisia with support from the German Foreign Office. The goal of this new program is to improve the quality of criminal defense service provided to indigent Tunisians, while strengthening Tunisia’s criminal legal aid system.
The new Constitution of the Tunisian Republic provides for the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, and the right not to be detained arbitrarily. It also provides for the right to legal representation for the indigent accused. Yet Tunisia faces challenges in implementing the right to counsel. The government legal aid system currently only provides for appointment of counsel in felony and juvenile cases, and lawyers’ access to detainees is limited during the critical early stages of the criminal justice process. Appointed lawyers are often newly admitted to the Bar and rarely have sufficient training or experience to effectively advocate for their clients.
Starting this week, the ILF and the Tunisian Young Lawyers Association began collaborating on a series of one-week trainings for young Tunisian lawyers. The ILF will then select lawyers to participate in an intensive mentoring program that will cultivate lawyers’ abilities to identify problems, find new solutions, and incorporate new laws, techniques, and strategies into their defense practice, thereby enabling them to become more proactive defense advocates.
In 2015, the ILF will then work to establish a pilot public defender office in Tunisia that will meet the need for effective, quality criminal defense services for the poor and marginalized.