A moment at the meeting between Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Tunisian president Kai Saied in Tunis. August 17 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ Farnesina (Italian Foreign Office) Press Office
A moment at the meeting between Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Tunisian president Kai Saied in Tunis. August 17 2020 | Photo: ANSA/ Farnesina (Italian Foreign Office) Press Office

Three organizations in Italy and Tunisia have asked their governments to be granted access to official documents connected with the recent agreement between the two countries on the issue of migration, saying that "the outsourcing of border control leads to systematic violations of migrants' rights."

A request has been filed by three associations, the Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione (ASGI), the Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux (FTDES), and Avocats sans Frontières (ASF) requesting access to Italian and Tunisian government documents related to an agreement reached over immigration on August 17.

The request was made after news reports began circulating that say Italy will provide €11 million in economic support to help strengthen Tunisian border control and train Tunisian security forces in order to prevent migrants from leaving and to intercept boats while they are still in Tunisian territorial waters, a joint statement issued by the organizations on October 8 said.

Organizations lash out

The organizations noted that the Italian interior and foreign ministers on August 17 went to Tunisia, accompanied by the EU's commissioner for home affairs and the commissioner for neighborhood policy and enlargement.

The Italian officials met the Tunisian president, prime minister-designate, and the acting foreign minister there in order to "agree on financing terms and reciprocal commitments," said the statement from the organizations.

The organizations are worried about the conditional nature of the aid. The organizations point out that Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has threatened to suspend €6.5 million in financing for development cooperation in Tunisia in order to encourage greater efforts in the country to get departures from its coasts under control.

'Accord based on mistaken assumptions'

The organizations said that the "agreement is based on mistaken assumptions," including designating Tunisia a "safe country" for the migrants crossing it, despite the fact that "the practices of arbitrary detention, inadequate reception conditions, and the lack of forms of effective protection [in Tunisia] are well known."

Another mistaken assumption, according to the organizations is to immediately designate all Tunisian migrants as "undocumented migrants to be repatriated."

The organizations underscored that, "according to regulations on asylum and those of push-backs and explosions, no repatriation is possible without the foreign national being given the possibility to request international protection."

They noted that "the recognition of international protection is based on personal circumstances and not on the nationality of the person.Every act of outsourcing border control produces systematic violations of the rights of foreign citizens, first and foremost those requesting asylum."

The statement concluded that "ASGI, ASF and FTDES have thus requested access to the contents of the agreement in order to conduct an analysis into its legitimacy and imagine future scenarios in terms of [its] impact on human rights."

 

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