Into­le­ra­ble pres­su­re on Tunisia

Late­ly, Tuni­si­an aut­ho­ri­ties have been the tar­get of into­le­ra­ble pres­su­re by Ger­ma­ny and Ita­ly. Within a week, they have been forced to cla­ri­fy their oppo­si­ti­on to the Ger­man as well as to the Ita­li­an aut­ho­ri­ties which were alle­gedly plan­ning to send migrants and refu­gees back to Tuni­sia. Dome­stic secu­ri­ty issues appear as a cor­ner­stone in the coope­ra­ti­on frame­work impo­sed to Tuni­sia albeit being atta­ched to a domain which is cle­ar­ly distinct from it: the right of asylum.

Pushing for the dis­em­bar­ka­ti­on in Tuni­sia of peo­p­le inter­cept­ed by the Ita­li­an coast-guards in exch­an­ge for sup­port in coun­ter-ter­ro­rism poli­ci­es, as sug­gested in an Ita­li­an press artic­le, would be in bla­tant breach of the EU’s as well as Ita­ly’s legal obli­ga­ti­ons. The lat­ter was actual­ly alre­a­dy con­dem­ned by the Euro­pean Court of Human Rights in 2012 for pushing back refu­gees to Libya and thus for resort­ing to the exact same practices.

In so doing, Ita­ly would act in pure and unbe­ara­ble cyni­cism for the fight against ter­ro­rism is a mat­ter of con­cern not only to Tuni­sia, but also to the Euro­pean Union.

This pres­su­re is adding up to claims that the Bel­gi­an par­lia­ment is con­side­ring adop­ting a read­mis­si­on clau­se as part of the con­ver­si­on of the Tuni­si­an debt into invest­ment by Bel­gi­um in Tuni­si­an agreed upon last Decem­ber 2016.

As Ger­ma­ny, Bel­gi­um and Ita­ly are con­side­ring lis­ting Tuni­sia as a »safe« coun­try of ori­gin, our orga­ni­sa­ti­ons stress that the use of the noti­on of »safe« coun­try impe­des on the right of asyl­um and that, in any case, the situa­ti­on in Tuni­sia does not meet the cri­te­ria pro­vi­ded for in Euro­pean law to deem a coun­try of ori­gin or of tran­sit »safe« (Direc­ti­ve 2013/32/EU).

Tuni­sia does not have a legal frame­work pro­tec­ting refu­gees and asyl­um see­kers, nor can it offer any recep­ti­on means to peo­p­le in need of inter­na­tio­nal pro­tec­tion. The­re is no safe­guard against cri­mi­na­li­sa­ti­on for »unaut­ho­ri­sed exist«,[1] in vio­la­ti­on of the fun­da­men­tal right to lea­ve any coun­try, or any pro­ce­du­ral safe­guard for tho­se unwil­ling to seek asyl­um and who may be detai­ned and depor­ted in inhu­ma­ne and degra­ding conditions.

Pres­su­re on Tuni­sia has to stop. Ins­tead, the Euro­pean Uni­on and its Mem­ber Sta­tes should tru­ly com­mit to the recep­ti­on of refu­gees and migrants on their ter­ri­to­ry, and should effec­tively sup­port Tuni­sia in the streng­thening of its Rule of Law and the fight against terrorism.

Signa­to­ry organisations




Asso­cia­zio­ne Ric­rae­ti­va e Cul­tu­ra­le Ita­lia­na (ARCI)

Ita­li­an Immi­gra­ti­on Legal Prac­ti­tio­ners Asso­cia­ti­on (ASGI)


Afri­que Intelligence

Afri­can Lea­ders Union

Citi­zen­ship and Free­dom Asso­cia­ti­on – Djerba

Coope­ra­ti­on for Deve­lo­p­ment in Emer­ging Count­ries (COSPE)

Tunis Cent­re for Migra­ti­on and Asyl­um (CeTU­MA)

Tuni­si­an Fede­ra­ti­on for a Citi­zen­ship on both shores of the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an (FTCR)

Tuni­si­an Forum for Eco­no­mic and Social Rights (FTDES)

Tuni­si­an Gene­ral Labour Uni­on (UGTT)

Tuni­si­an League for Human Rights

Uni­on for Afri­can Stu­dents and Interns in Tunisia

UTOPIA Tuni­sie

Vigi­lan­ce for Demo­cra­cy and Civil Regis­tra­ti­on (Vigi­lan­ce pour la Démo­cra­tie et l’E­tat Civil)

Dia­spo­ra organisations 

Asso­cia­ti­on Inter­cul­tu­rel­le Pro­duc­tion Dif­fu­si­on Docu­men­ta­ti­on (AIDDA)

Asso­cia­ti­on of Maghreb Workers in France (ATMF)

Asso­cia­ti­on of Tuni­si­ans in Switz­er­land (ATTS)

Asso­cia­ti­on of Tuni­si­an Immi­grants – Citi­zens of both shores of the Medi­ter­ra­ne­an – Grenoble

Asso­cia­ti­on of Tuni­si­ans in the North – Lille

Asso­cia­ti­on Le Pont de Genève

Coll­ec­tif  Cul­tu­re, Créa­ti­on, Citoy­enne­té – 3C

Com­mit­tee of Tuni­si­an Immi­grants in Ita­ly (CITI)

Com­mit­tee for the Respect of Free­doms and Human Rights in Tuni­sia (CRLDHT)

Demo­cra­tic Orga­ni­sa­ti­on of Tuni­si­ans in France (ADTF)

Fahr­at Hached Asso­cia­ti­on for Soli­da­ri­ty and Justice

Tuni­si­an Women Group (Coll­ec­tif des Femmes Tuni­si­en­nes CFT)

Tuni­si­an Uni­on for the Action of Citi­zens (UTAC)

Vigi­lan­ce Com­mit­tee for Demo­cra­cy in Tuni­sia – Bel­gi­um (CVDT)


Euro­Med Rights

Euro­pean Asso­cia­ti­on for the Defence of Human Rights (AEDH)


[1] This was intro­du­ced as a crime in Tuni­si­an law in 2004, as a direct result of pres­su­res from the Euro­pean Uni­on. The same situa­ti­on appli­es in other count­ries such as Alge­ria, Moroc­co and Senegal.

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