Tunisian Authorities Escalate Crackdown on Migrant, Refugee Rights Groups

In a concerning escalation, the Tunisian government has launched an unprecedented campaign targeting civil society organizations, journalists, and human rights defenders working to protect the rights of migrants and refugees, Amnesty International reported yesterday.

Over the past two weeks, Tunisian authorities have arrested, summoned, and investigated the leaders and members of at least 12 organizations, accusing them of vague charges such as “financial crimes” for providing aid and support to migrants and refugees. This includes a Tunisian NGO that partners with the UN Refugee Agency to assist asylum seekers.

Authorities have also arrested at least two journalists and referred them to trial for their independent reporting on the situation. In parallel, security forces have intensified unlawful collective deportations of refugees and migrants, as well as forced evictions, even arresting and convicting landlords for renting to migrants without permits.

“Tunisia’s authorities have stepped up a malicious crackdown against civil society, using spurious claims to harass and prosecute those supporting migrants and refugees,” said Heba Morayef of Amnesty International. “This campaign, backed by the President himself, puts vulnerable populations at grave risk and undermines the vital work of human rights defenders.”

The European Union, which cooperates with Tunisia on migration management, must urgently review these agreements to ensure it is not complicit in these human rights violations, Amnesty urged, stressing that Tunisia must immediately end this repressive campaign and halt all reprisals against those providing essential aid and shelter.

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