International Migrants Day

Maghreb, Migration and Asylum, Statement

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Joint Statement

Police violence against migrants in Algeria and Tunisia

Respect of the law and dignity for all

On the occasion of the international day for the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, our organisations denounce the collective expulsions that occurred early December in Algeria and Tunisia. We firmly reiterate the obligation to treat every person with dignity regardless of their status.

Our organisations recall that collective expulsions, inhuman and degrading treatment, including violence against women and the arbitrary deprivation of liberty are prohibited under international law, all of which are binding obligations on Tunisia and Algeria.

It is a matter of urgency that such practices that threaten dignity and life cease immediately, as much as the pressures exercised on the civil society organisations that are alerting on these serious violations.
As a reminder, on 30 November, 10 individuals detained at the administrative detention centre of Ouardia (a suburb of Tunis) were transferred to the region of Kasserine for illegal expulsion to Algeria, a practice that had been previously documented in December 2015. The group, comprising mainly Ivorian women, one of whom is pregnant, as well as Cameroonian and Ethiopian nationals, was separated and forcibly taken across the border without information on their destination or access to legal counsel. One of the women reported being the victim of sexual assault perpetrated by a man in uniform, although she was unable to identify his rank or nationality. These people, most of whom undocumented, did not appear before a court and were not issued any deportation order notifying their expulsion from Tunisia. At the same time in Algiers, over 1,400 migrants whether in an irregular or regular situation, including some people with registration cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),  pregnant women and children were suddenly arrested as part of a large-scale operation aimed at their summary expulsion. Gathered in unsanitary camps around the capital, a place called Zeralda managed by the Algerian Red Crescent, they were forcibly taken to Tamanrasset (1,900 km away from Algiers), and directly deported to Niger with the exception of most holders of HCR cards who were eventually freed. It is as yet unknown whether other refugees, asylum seekers or migrants were deported to Niger. These operations are taking place in an overall context of arrests’ recrudescence, forced displacements, legal proceedings and massive expulsions in every Maghreb countries, against migrants in an irregular situation. This arbitrary violence creates a climate of fear, tension, and fuel all forms of racism, which we strongly denounce. Our organisations strongly condemn the recent statement by Mr. Farouke Ksentini, Chair of the National Consultative Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Algeria, who considers that the migrant community is “responsible for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases” and that “migrants have no future in Algeria”.

At a time when Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are considering categorising Maghreb countries as “safe” countries of origin, we wish to recall that the legal frameworks on the reception and stay of migrants and refugees in these two countries are not in conformity with international law, paving the way for serious human rights violations. More specifically, neither Algeria nor Tunisia are equipped with legislative tools guaranteeing protection to refugees and asylum seekers. Tunisia has yet to ratify the International Convention on the protection of all migrant workers and members of their families.

However, despite the absence of such laws, bilateral deals are still being made: Algeria has made an agreement in principle with Germany concerning the forced return of its nationals in an irregular situation in February 2016; while Tunisia and the European Union (EU) began negotiations in October 2016 on the readmission of migrants in an irregular situation, including third-country nationals and stateless persons believed to have transited through Tunisia.

In this context, our organisations are calling on:

  • The Algerian and Tunisian authorities to put an end to the expulsion proceedings which contradict international and regional conventions (African Charter on Human Rights) ratified by these countries, and to sanction all forms of violence against migrants and refugees; –   The Algerian and Tunisian authorities to launch an inquest without further delay on the sexual assault perpetrated by a law enforcement officer against a migrant woman during deportation, so as to identify his identity and launch proceedings before the competent judicial authorities;
  • The Algerian and Tunisian authorities to ensure the protection of human rights defenders who advocate for the rights of migrants in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
  • The Algerian and Tunisian authorities to repeal the laws criminalising unauthorised departures, which violates of international law (08/11 Law on the entry and stay of foreigners and 09/06 Law criminalising departures from the country without travel documents in Algeria; Law of February 2004 in Tunisia);
  • The Algerian and Tunisian authorities to adopt frameworks guaranteeing effective access to fundamental rights for all migrants and refugees in accordance with international conventions;
  • The EU and its Member States to suspend all cooperation processes aiming to return migrants and externalise border management, for their implementation lead to many human rights violations, in addition to putting at risk the rights of third-country nationals given the absence of appropriate legislation in the country of return, and the further risk of refoulement or chain deportation onto another country.

Organisations signataires :

ACDA – Agir pour le Changement et la Démocratie en Algérie

AESAT

Afrique Intelligence

Association des Femmes Tunisiennes pour la Recherche sur le Développement (AFTURD)

Association Tunisienne des Etudes Scientifiques sur la Population, la Migration et la Santé (ASPOMIS)

Centre Tunisien sur la Migration et l’Asile (CeTuMA)

CFDA

Citoyenneté et Libertés Jerba

Comité pour le Respect des Libertés et des Droits de l´Homme en Tunisie (CRLDHT)

EuroMed Droits

Fédération Tunisienne pour une Citoyenneté des Deux Rives (FTCR)

Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux (FTDES)

Ligue Algérienne pour la Défense des Droits Humains (LADDH)

Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l´Homme (LTDH)

Rassemblement Action Jeunesse (RAJ)

Syndicat National Autonome du Personnel de l’Administration Publique (SNAPAP)

Tunisie Terre d’Asile

Union des Leaders Africains

Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT)

Union Nationale de la Femme Tunisienne

UTOPIA Tunisie