The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued a solemn warning on Tuesday to the Tunisian authorities to put an end to “racist hate speech” in particular towards nationals of sub-Saharan Africa.
The Committee said it was “alarmed by the remarks made by the Tunisian Head of State (Kais Saied) at the end of February, alleging that +hordes of illegal migrants+ from sub-Saharan African countries were part of a +criminal plan aimed at to change the composition of Tunisia’s demographic landscape+ and were at the origin of +violence, crimes and unacceptable practices+”.
The Committee considered that such remarks are contrary to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, of which it is responsible for monitoring compliance by the parties involved.
He said he was “deeply concerned by an upsurge in racial or xenophobic hate speech in Tunisia against migrants from sub-Saharan countries, on social networks and certain other media, including racist hate speech by personalities private and political parties”.
The Committee is also “gravely concerned” that this wave of hate speech and stigmatization has led to acts of violence against these migrants, including physical attacks and expulsions from their homes and jobs.
The Committee is alarmed by reports of numerous arbitrary arrests of these migrants, including women, children and students, “carried out by the security forces within the framework of the campaign entitled +Strengthening the security fabric and reducing of the phenomenon of illegal stay in Tunisia+, without all the procedural guarantees”.
The Committee called on Tunisia to immediately cease mass arrests and detentions of these migrants, release those who are arbitrarily detained, and allow those who choose to seek asylum to do so.
At the beginning of March, the Tunisian president had defended himself from any racism against sub-Saharan Africans after the outcry aroused by his incendiary speech on February 21, widely condemned by the international community and human rights NGOs. He rejected the “malicious remarks” of those who “wanted to interpret the speech as they pleased to harm Tunisia”.
In the wake of the violence triggered by the president’s remarks, the World Bank (WB) had announced that it was suspending “until further notice” its partnership framework with Tunisia, which is in a catastrophic economic situation.
Tunis has also been negotiating for several months with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan of nearly two billion dollars.
Pair : AFP