PRO ASYL and Euro­Med Rights are appe­aling to the Ger­man government not to fur­ther the exter­na­li­za­ti­on of refu­gee pro­tec­tion

After her visit to Egypt, Chan­cellor Ange­la Mer­kel is visi­t­ing Pre­si­dent Beji Caid Esseb­si and Prime Minis­ter Yous­sef Cha­hed in Tunis today. On the top of the agen­da will be the bila­te­ral co-ope­ra­ti­on on issu­es of migra­ti­on and secu­ri­ty.

This visit fol­lows the strong oppo­si­ti­on by both civil socie­ty orga­ni­sa­ti­ons and the Tuni­sian governments to the Ger­man Chancellor’s announ­ce­ment, pri­or to a mee­ting with the Tuni­sian Prime Minis­ter Cha­hed on Febru­a­ry 14th, 2017 that poten­ti­al »recep­ti­on camps« may be fun­ded by Ger­ma­ny in Tuni­sia in the near future. The viru­lent ongo­ing deba­te around »camps in North Afri­ca« rai­ses con­cerns about pres­su­re con­ti­nuing to be exer­ted on North Afri­can sta­tes by the EU and its mem­bers sta­tes – with dire con­se­quen­ces for refu­gee pro­tec­tion.

The Ger­man-French note, pro­mo­ting the repro­duc­tion of the EU-Tur­key deal with other coun­tries (inclu­ding no sub­stan­ti­al exami­na­ti­on of asyl­um claim befo­re remo­val) to deal with what is deemed »mass influx«, lea­ked mid-Febru­a­ry by State­watch, is yet ano­t­her examp­le of the dan­ge­rous direc­tion being pur­sued at regio­nal and bila­te­ral level. To keep asyl­um see­kers away, Ger­ma­ny is offi­ci­al­ly rea­dy to resort to any means, inclu­ding total with­dra­wal from inter­na­tio­nal con­ven­ti­ons as well EU law obli­ga­ti­ons gua­ran­te­eing refu­gee pro­tec­tion.

Euro­Med Rights and PRO ASYL have repeated­ly stres­sed that Tuni­sia does not have a func­tio­n­ing asyl­um sys­tem. The­re is no law and thus no exami­na­ti­on and recep­ti­on pro­ce­du­res in place to pro­cess indi­vi­du­al claims for inter­na­tio­nal pro­tec­tion and no legal reme­di­es to appeal nega­ti­ve asyl­um decisi­ons.

For over a year, the Ger­man government has also been try­ing to list Alge­ria, Tuni­sia and Moroc­co as »safe coun­tries of ori­gin« to acce­le­ra­te depor­ta­ti­ons of natio­nals and poten­ti­al­ly third-coun­try natio­nals to North Afri­can coun­tries after their asyl­um request has been fast-tra­cked and rejec­ted. Our orga­ni­sa­ti­ons oppo­se the use of the noti­on of safe­ty which is detri­men­tal to a fair exami­na­ti­on of an asyl­um claim. Alt­hough no majo­ri­ty was reached in the Bun­des­rat (»Federal Coun­cil«) on this pro­po­sal, the government remains unde­ter­red and is nego­tia­ting direc­t­ly with the con­cer­ned coun­tries behind clo­sed doors, irre­spec­tive of repeated warnings by human rights orga­ni­sa­ti­ons  very con­cer­ning human rights situa­ti­on in Alge­ria, Tuni­sia and Moroc­co: cri­mi­na­li­sa­ti­on of homo­se­xua­li­ty, fre­quent instan­ces of poli­ce vio­lence, tor­tu­re and ill-tre­at­ment in poli­ce cus­to­dy as poin­ted out by the UN Com­mit­tee Against Tor­tu­re in 2016 and Amnes­ty Inter­na­tio­nal a few weeks ago.

Our orga­ni­sa­ti­ons denoun­ce the into­le­ra­ble pres­su­re, inclu­ding con­di­tio­na­li­ty on exter­nal coope­ra­ti­on at lar­ge, exer­ted against Tuni­sia and other coun­tries in the regi­on to accept, at any human rights costs, to be the only respon­si­ble for the recep­ti­on of migrants and refu­gee com­mu­nities.

PRO ASYL and Euro­Med Rights are cal­ling on the Ger­man government to show soli­da­ri­ty with Tunisia’s demo­cra­tic tran­si­ti­on and are warning against the fur­ther exter­na­li­za­ti­on of refu­gee pro­tec­tion to North Afri­can sta­tes. Attempts to sus­pend all legal safe­guards for refu­gees under the pre­tence of an alle­ged mass influx are scan­da­lous. Ins­tead of taking the lead in pro­mo­ting an »Aus­tra­li­an solu­ti­on« for Euro­pe – off­sho­ring asyl­um pro­ce­du­res at the expen­se of inter­na­tio­nal asyl­um law stan­dards –, the Ger­man government must do all it can to final­ly make a true sys­tem of pro­tec­tion a rea­li­ty in Euro­pe.

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