Sit-in protest by a group of Tunisians who landed in Lampedusa | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO
Sit-in protest by a group of Tunisians who landed in Lampedusa | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO

A report presented in Tunis by Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) and other associations disputes the inclusion of Tunisia in Italy's list of "safe countries of origin."

Martina Costa of Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF) sauf that the concept of existing "security" in Tunisia was a myth, speaking in favor of taking the North African country off Italy's list of safe countries of origin.

Costa made the remarks as part of a joint report published on International Migrants Day last Saturday, December 18, which said that "the inclusion of Tunisia in the Italian list of 'safe countries of origin' has consequences on the way in which asylum applications of Tunisian citizens are examined."

'Incompatible with the spirit of right to asylum'

Being on Italy's list of safe countries practically cancels the right to asylum of any Tunisian national, according to the report, and consequently legitimizes deportations, expulsions and pushbacks against Tunisians.

"(T)he use of the concept of 'security' to justify the establishment of accelerated procedures for the examination of asylum applications not only implies a lowering of the procedural guarantees essential to safeguarding the quality of the asylum procedure but also ignores the specific situations of various Tunisian asylum seekers," Costa cited from the report.

Costa added: "Not only is the concept of 'safe country of origin' incompatible with the spirit of the right to asylum but the current situation in Tunisia does not seem to present the essential 'security' conditions to meet this qualification."

'No such thing as a safe country'

Costa argued on behalf of ASF that the Italian government should "renounce the notion of 'safe country of origin' which essentially cancels the right to asylum," adding that each case should be assessed on its own merit regardless of the country of origin.

"Tunisia is a country that does not ensure the fundamental guarantees regarding the protection of human rights in accordance with the provisions of European legislation" and that "the exploitation of the concept of a safe country, aimed at migratory management, ends up endangering the safety of migrants".

Tunisia remains the country to which Italy carries out the greatest number of repatriation operations, with 1,997 Tunisians being deported in 2020 and 1,655 thus far 2021.


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