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Joining Its Neighbors, Tunisia Creates an Environmental Police Force to Curb Waste

27 June, 2017
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There seems to be a growing trend across North Africa when it comes to protecting the environment. In June, Tunisia launched an environmental police force that will target the country’s growing waste problem, joining the likes of Morocco, which launched its version of an environmental police force in February.

Tunisia’s Minister of Local Affairs and the Environment Riadh Mouakher attributed the country’s growing waste problem to a lack of awareness among the public as well as the municipalities' inability to handle waste properly due to a lack of resources. "Even municipalities themselves sometimes dump their waste in public spaces," Mouakher said, according to the AFP.

The newly-created environmental police force will patrol the streets and curb waste for a month in an effort to educate the public. After which, citizens found throwing waste onto the streets or breaking other environmental rules will be forced to pay fines (between 40 and 60 dinars). Moreover, if a violation of the law is deemed a damage to public health a prison term can be handed down as punishment.

The ministry will “work on implementing the new law, which was approved by the Assembly of People’s Representatives concerning the increase of the price of fines for breaches of environmental law,” said Mouakher. In the future, any violation of the environmental law will be considered a criminal offence, reported Tunisia Live.  

During the launch of the police force, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed noted that the government has plans to allocate $15.2 million toward a national clean-up campaign to coincide with the summer season, which often brings in a lot of tourists.

The environmental police force was originally scheduled to be launched in January, but was delayed for logistical reasons.

Tunisia’s creation of an environmental police force comes after the country banned plastic bags from supermarkets in March. 

Egypt’s Ministry of Environment launched a similar campaign in June titled “Enough Plastic Bags”. Egypt’s initiative, which is funded by the EU and will be carried out with the help of the United Nations and the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe, targets reducing the consumption of plastic bags.

Morocco launched its environmental police brigade in February in order to protect against environmental damage and raise awareness among the public. The launch of the police brigade is part of a consolidated effort to curb the effects of climate change following Marrakech’s hosting of the Climate Change Conference, better known as COP22, in November 2017.

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Tags Tunisia Morocco Egypt plastic waste Environment environmental police ministry of local affairs and the environment