Call to Halt EU Support: Rights Group Reveals Abuse of Migrants in Tunisia

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
2 Min Read
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Human Rights Watch, a rights organization, has urged the European Union to suspend its support for Tunisia in combating irregular migration following reports of “serious violations” committed against African migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers by Tunisian police, army, and the National Guard, including the coastguard.

The organization stated that it has collected over 20 live testimonies from “victims of human rights abuses at the hands of Tunisian authorities.” These documented violations encompass beatings, excessive use of force, torture in some cases, arbitrary arrests, mass deportations, perilous actions at sea, forced evictions, and theft of money and belongings.

The majority of the documented violations occurred after Tunisian President Kais Saied’s speech on February 21, where he vehemently opposed irregular migration, denouncing the arrival of “crowds of migrants” who, according to him, are “changing Tunisia’s demographic composition.”

Testimonies from individuals who were interviewed reveal that they experienced violence in police stations, with some subjected to electric shocks. Others condemned “arbitrary arrests and detentions based on their skin color” without any prior verification of their identities.

Many reported “attacks during interception or rescue operations near Sfax,” stating that they were “beaten, robbed, and humiliated,” according to Human Rights Watch.

The non-governmental organization, which sent a letter to the Tunisian government at the end of June and received no response, called on the European Union to halt its assistance for combating irregular migration in Tunisia “until its impact on human rights is assessed.”

Lauren Sebert, a researcher on refugee and migrant rights at Human Rights Watch, emphasized that “EU funding for security forces committing abuses during migration control makes it complicit in the suffering of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Tunisia.”

On Sunday, the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding on a new “strategic partnership” with Tunisia, along with a financial package worth one billion euros for the country, including 105 million euros to facilitate the voluntary return of six thousand African migrants.

Afaf Al Fahchouch

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