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EU faces human rights questions over Tunisia migration pact

Published : Saturday, 16 September, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 286

BRUSSELS, Sept 15: The EU ombudsman demanded Friday that Brussels explain how it will ensure that its pact with Tunisia to curb migration will not breach human rights standards.

The Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, is an independent overseer employed to handle complaints about the work of EU institutions and agencies and to investigate alleged administrative failures.

"Where fundamental rights are not respected, there cannot be good administration," she said.

In July, the European Union signed a deal to provide financial assistance and practical cooperation to Tunisia -- the main launchpad for undocumented migrants making the dangerous sea crossing to Italy.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Netherlands' Mark Rutte hailed the deal as a way to fight "networks of smugglers and traffickers".

But international human rights organisations and some MEPs have criticised Brussels for forming an anti-migration partnership with President Kais Saied's increasingly authoritarian regime.

In recent months hundreds of migrants arrested in Tunisia have allegedly been dropped off in the desert near the Libya border and left to fend for themselves.

Against this backdrop, O'Reilly said von der Leyen's European Commission has some explaining to do.

"Did the Commission carry out a human rights impact assessment of the MoU before its conclusion and consider possible measures to mitigate risks of human rights violations," the ombudsman asked, in a letter to von der Leyen.

"If yes, could the Commission make this impact assessment public, along with the mitigating measures? If not, please set out the rationale for this."    �AFP

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