The Tunisian police, military, and national guard including the coast guard have committed serious abuses against Black African migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Documented abuses include beatings, use of excessive force, some cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention. The military and national guard left refugees in the desert with insufficient food and water. People said that authorities confiscated and never returned their money or belongings.

TUNIS JULY 20: The Tunisian police, military, and national guard including the coast guard have committed serious abuses against Black African migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday 19 July.

Documented abuses include beatings, use of excessive force, some cases of torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, collective expulsions, dangerous actions at sea, forced evictions, and theft of money and belongings.

Yet on July 16, the European Union (EU) announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tunisia on a new “strategic partnership” and a funding package of up to €1 billion for the country, including €105 million for “border management, … search and rescue, anti-smuggling and return.”

The MoU, which must be approved formally by EU member states, failed to include serious guarantees that Tunisian authorities would prevent violations of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

“Tunisian authorities have abused Black African foreigners, fueled racist and xenophobic attitudes, and forcibly returned people fleeing by boat who risk serious harm in Tunisia,” said Lauren Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Human Rights Watch also interviewed four representatives from civil society groups in Tunisia, as well as a volunteer who assisted refugees in Tunis.

Fifteen people interviewed said they suffered violence by the police, military, or national guard including coast guard. This included a refugee and an asylum seeker beaten and electrically shocked by police during detention in Tunis. Five people said that authorities confiscated and never returned their money or belongings.

The seven interviewees expelled to border zones in July said the military and national guard left them in the desert with insufficient food and water.

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Image: Government Press Office (Israel)
Source: HRW

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