Amnesty International Friday called for Tunisia to put an immediate end to racist and xenophobic attacks targeting Black African migrants. The violence began in early February and was exacerbated by a racially-charged speech by President Kais Saied at a National Security Council meeting on February 21.
Amnesty International interviewed 20 migrants who were victims of racist mob attacks. The interviewees alleged illegal detention, eviction, harassment by law enforcement authorities and forced deportation.
Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa Heba Morayef called for Saied to retract his statements:
President Saied must retract his comments and order investigations to clearly signal that anti-Black racist violence will not be tolerated. The president must stop finding scapegoats for Tunisia’s economic and political woes. The community of Black African migrants in Tunisia is now gripped by fear of assault or being arbitrarily arrested and summarily deported.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Migration, and Tunisians Abroad denied allegations of forced deportation. Officials argued that foreign nationals are given the necessary protection “without any discrimination.”
Multiple civil society groups, including Lawyers Without Borders, Save the Children and the Association for the Defense of Individual Liberties, condemned the spate of racially-motivated attacks against migrants in a joint statement. Further, the civil society groups alleged that the Tunisian government has fallen short of its obligations under the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees. Article 3 of the convention specifies the parties cannot discriminate against refugees on the basis of “race, religion or country of origin, nor because they are refugees.” They called on the government to develop a “legal framework” to bring immigration in line with international standards.