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MRG urges Tunisian government to address anti-black racism and investigate abuse against migrants

31 October 2023

This statement was delivered by Samuel Ade Ndasi at the 77 th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights: 20 October – 9 November 2023

Oral Statement by Minority Rights Group International on the Human Rights Situation of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples in Africa

Honourable Chairperson and Members of the Commission, distinguished representatives of States, and esteemed colleagues of international and national NGOs.

My name is Samuel Ade Ndasi and I am grateful for the opportunity to make this statement on behalf of Minority Rights Group International (MRG) and our partners in Tunisia, Association for the Right to Difference, Avocats Sans Frontières and Mnemty, regarding the human rights situation of sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia.

Minority Rights Group (MRG) and its partners, remain deeply concerned by the continued widespread escalation of racist attacks and discrimination in Tunisia against sub-Saharan migrants and black Tunisians, sparked by the inflammatory statement by President Kais Saied on February 21, 2023, in which he claimed that migration is “a criminal plan” aimed at “changing the ethnic demographics of Tunisia”. This declaration was followed by a series of forced expulsions from the country, arrests, loss of jobs and housing, and collective acts of violence in the streets against migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Our organizations have documented dozens of cases of violence and discrimination by law enforcement agents in recent months, including racial profiling, arrests of people who lodged complaints about attacks or who tried to regularize their situation at police stations, and minors separated from their parents. Hundreds of migrants remain imprisoned in the city of Sfax with numerous accusations of illegal stay.

Since July 2023, several cases have been documented where hundreds of subSaharan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees were forcibly removed from inside Tunisia by the police and army and abandoned at the Tunisian-Libyan and TunisianAlgerian borders. In particular, in early July, a group of 20 sub-Saharan migrants were subjected to numerous human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, violence and denial of medical care, and left in an isolated area where temperatures reach 45 degrees without any assistance, food, or money.

As MRG and partners, we are deeply concerned by these abuses, and, therefore, respectfully request the Commission to urge the government of Tunisia to:

1) Tackle the anti-black structural racism which affects its society; carry out reforms to respect human rights; and end racial discrimination.

2) Investigate all reported cases of abuse and discrimination against migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees by its citizens and security agents and ensure accountability by bringing the perpetrators to book and providing redress to all victims of abuse.

3) Release all those detained solely on the grounds of illegal entry and ensure access to water, food, healthcare and shelter.

Thank you