Migrants’ Rights Leader Detained in Tunisia: Prominent Activist in Custody

Migrants' Rights Leader Detained in Tunisia: Prominent Activist
Tunisia's president links African migrants to "violence and crimes

Migrants’ Rights Leader Detained in Tunisia: Prominent Activist in Custody

On Tuesday, Tunisia’s public prosecutor detained Saadia Mosbah, a prominent activist and head of a non-governmental organization advocating for the rights of migrants, according to human rights groups. This action came shortly after President Kais Saied accused certain groups defending Sub-Saharan migrants of treason, heightening concerns about the state of civil liberties in the country.

Tunisia has been grappling with a significant migration crisis characterized by an influx of Sub-Saharan Africans attempting to reach Europe via dangerous boat journeys. Local media reported that Mosbah, whose organization focuses on combating racism and defending migrants’ rights, is being investigated by the police for suspected financial crimes.

The situation has sparked tensions, with residents in the southern town of El Amra staging demonstrations in favor of deporting migrants, citing untenable living conditions. President Saied, speaking during a meeting of the National Security Council, underscored the urgency of addressing the migrant issue, asserting that Tunisia would not become a “land for the settlement of migrants.”

Saied’s remarks implicated certain officials running civil society groups advocating for migrants’ rights as “traitors” allegedly funded from abroad. Following his speech, the judiciary initiated investigations into some migrant support organizations, leading critics to decry the move as an attempt to stifle dissent.

Last year, President Saied drew condemnation from the African Union for labeling the arrival of thousands of illegal migrants from Sub-Saharan African countries as a “conspiracy to change the country’s demographic makeup,” with the AU denouncing Tunisia’s rhetoric as “hate speech” against migrants.

Tunisia has emerged as the primary departure point for individuals fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East, seeking refuge in Europe. The detention of Saadia Mosbah and the broader crackdown on migrant support organizations underscore the challenges facing Tunisia as it navigates complex migration dynamics while balancing concerns about national security and human rights.

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