Tunisia Detains Prominent Activists For Defending Migrants’ Rights

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A prominent activist and head of a nongovernmental group that defends the rights of migrants, Saadia Mosbah has been detained by Tunisia’s public prosecutor on Tuesday.

The detention of the activist was due to the accusations levelled against some human rights groups by President Kais Saied that defended Sub-Saharan migrants of treason.

Tunisia has been grappling with a severe migration crisis due to an influx of Sub-Saharan Africans seeking to migrate to Europe in boats.

But on Monday afternoon Tounkra camp chief Haroun Isa Dagam said logistical problems meant they’d still be unable to cast their ballots.

Local media reported that the police began investigating Mosbah, whose group combats racism and defends migrants’ rights, on suspicion of financial crimes.

Residents of the southern town of El Amra demonstrated in favour of deporting migrants last weekend, saying the situation had become unbearable.

Saied said during a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday that the migrant situation raised questions about who was really behind it.

“This situation cannot continue and Tunisia will not be a land for the settlement of migrants,” he said.

He added that many officials who run civil society groups defending migrants’ rights were “traitors” who receive funds from abroad.

Local media said that following Saied’s speech, the judiciary began investigating some groups helping migrants in a move critics say aims to silence them.

Last year, Saied said that the arrival of thousands of illegal migrants from Sub-Saharan African countries was a “conspiracy to change the country’s demographic make-up,” prompting the African Union to condemn what it called Tunisia’s “hate speech” against migrants.

Tunisia has replaced Libya as the region’s main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe.