Archive: Migrants who left Tunisia on a boat arrive at Lampedusa's harbour, 13 October 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Pasquale Claudio Montana Lampo
Archive: Migrants who left Tunisia on a boat arrive at Lampedusa's harbour, 13 October 2019 | Photo: ANSA/Pasquale Claudio Montana Lampo

A group of migrants has filed a legal complaint against their arbitrary detention in the el Ouardia Center in Tunis. Four human rights groups have issued a statement saying that the facility is operating as an illegal detention center.

A group of detained migrants at the el Ouardia Center, south of Tunis, has lodged an urgent complaint with the Administrative Tribunal challenging their arbitrary detention, according to a statement issued by four human rights organizations Monday and reported by Tap news agency.

According to the associations, migrants have been detained in the facility, which is legally designated as a shelter and orientation center. "Migrants cannot leave this center, which effectively operates as an illegal detention center," the statement says.

'Migrants deprived of freedom'

The signatory organizations stressed that the migrants held in the center are deprived of freedom and lack basic fundamental rights in the absence of judicial procedures, as defined in the Constitution and according to international standards. "They have been accused by the administration of illegal entry or stay in Tunisian territory.

"However, such an offence cannot justify their detention outside any legal procedure and judicial control, as a number of them had already been tried and imprisoned for these acts before being sheltered in the el Ouardia Center," the statement reads. It adds that in Tunisia and elsewhere, the deprivation of liberty must be strictly framed by an organic law. It must to be justified by procedural guarantees capable of ensuring that detention is not illegal or arbitrary.

A complaint to stop arbitrary detention

With the help of a group of lawyers, several migrants have filed a complaint before the Tunis Administrative Court so that it fulfils its role as a guarantor of rights and order, without creating a delay, as well as stopping their arbitrary detention.

The signatory organizations are the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), Lawyers without Borders, Tunisia land of Asylum, and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT). The organizations have called for decriminalizing their entry and illegal stay, reviewing the residence permit procedures, processing requests and establishing asylum procedures.

The rights groups say the reforms are obligations under the Constitution, which guarantees the right to seek and enjoy asylum as well as the right not to be detained arbitrarily. They are also included in international human rights treaties ratified by Tunisia.


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