European Interest

CoE: European states’ migration co-operation with Tunisia should be subject to clear human rights safeguards

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“Council of Europe member states should insist on clear human rights safeguards in any further migration co-operation with Tunisia”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, in relation to the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Union and Tunisia which foresees, among other things, closer co-operation on migration.

“Comprehensive human rights safeguards must be an integral part of any migration co-operation activity between Council of Europe member states and third countries, including Tunisia. Such safeguards should ensure that support does not result, directly or indirectly, in human rights violations at the hands of those third countries. The recently reported serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants in Tunisia only make the inclusion of such safeguards more pressing.

The text of the Memorandum of Understanding between the EU and Tunisia relating to migration only includes very general language on human rights, and no concrete indication of whether safeguards would be put in place or what those would be. I therefore call on Council of Europe member states which are also EU member states to press for immediate clarification of the human rights safeguards that will be put in place and to insist that the migration-related aspects of the agreement are not further implemented until adequate safeguards have been established. Such safeguards should include, at a minimum, the publication of a comprehensive human rights risk assessment, full transparency in the provision of funding, the setting up of independent monitoring mechanisms to assess the human rights impact of specific activities under the agreement, and the ability to suspend any activities found to be negatively impacting on the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

Failure to establish clear and concrete safeguards in migration co-operation activities will only add to the worrying trend of human rights being sacrificed to European states’ attempts to externalise their responsibilities.”

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