The recent repeal of a law criminalizing migrant trafficking by the military junta in power in Niger over the weekend has prompted several Maghreb countries to voice their apprehensions.
The law, enacted in May 2015 as part of an agreement with the European Union to curb the influx of West African refugees en route to Europe via Libya or Algeria, has raised concerns among Maghreb nations.
Niger serves as a pivotal hub for migration to Europe, while the Maghreb has evolved into a major gateway through the Mediterranean to European shores. Libya and Tunisia, in particular, bear the brunt of this phenomenon, with migrants in these countries often subjected to inhumane treatment, a situation condemned by human rights institutions.
Selim Ben Abdesselem, former Tunisian parliamentarian and board member of the NGO France Fraternities, reflects on this repeal and warns about its potential consequences in an interview with Houda Ibrahim from RFI’s Africa desk.
“It is evident that even in countries where laws exist to penalize trafficking, these laws are not fully enforced. Sometimes, there may be a lack of will on the part of states to enforce them, or at times, they lack the means to do so,” cautions Abdesselem.
The geopolitical dynamics surrounding migration in the Maghreb region and the repeal of this law in Niger underscore the complexities faced by nations in addressing the challenges posed by irregular migration. As Maghreb nations grapple with the potential ramifications, international attention turns to the need for coordinated efforts and effective enforcement mechanisms to ensure the humane treatment of migrants and to address the root causes of migration in the region.