Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Tunisia has witnessed a wave of racist attacks in recent weeks. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have been targeted by physical violence, arbitrary arrests and detentions by the police, evictions by landlords, and other violations of basic human rights.

Racist and hateful rhetoric has been circulating widely on social media since the president claimed that there is a conspiracy to change the demographics of the country through immigration. This rhetoric is worryingly reminiscent of the white nationalist, far-right “great replacement” theory seen in Europe.

The signatories below work to promote the inclusion of marginalised groups, which is fundamental for democratic countries. Recent developments lead to human rights violations and undermine marginalized groups such as migrants from accessing basic rights.

Although Tunisia ratified the International Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination and adopted the first anti-racism law of its kind in North Africa and the Arab world, the black Tunisian population has historically faced structural racism, marginalization and inequality. Since the 2011 revolution, the victims of racism became more visible thanks to the Tunisian social movement and civil society that challenged the social and institutional forms of racism.

Migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa face greater difficulties than any other migrants in obtaining work permits and documentation in Tunisia. The wave of repression against African migrants is a particular manifestation of a security approach to migration supported by the externalization of EU borders. This has fostered massive human rights violations and the emergence of inhumane migration detention centers and violent interceptions of migrant in transit countries.

Within Africa, migrants are increasingly victims of racism and discrimination. In part, the inability of African countries to deal with the socio-economic crisis, unemployment and worsening public services, have allowed anti-migrant statements and racist hate speech to rise with impunity.

In Europe, support for far-right discourse is growing 3and has led to increased discrimination and racism, with African migrants among the most marginalized groups. According to the recent UN experts’ speech, for example, “racism in the UK is structural, institutional and systemic, and people of African descent in the country continue to experience racial discrimination and an erosion of their human rights”.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the organisations below are joining Tunisians to call for:

the Tunisian government to:

  • Stop the wave of violations against black African migrants.
  • Dismantle all forms of structural discrimination against black Tunisians

Western governments to:

  • Ensure freedom of mobility and put an end to the externalisation of borders policy.
  • Confront past legacies of slavery and colonialism and deliver reparatory justice.

International organisations to:

  • Reinforce their humanitarian/ legal support to migrants.
  • Support African civil society voices.


Avocats Sans Frontières

International Alert DRC

International Alert Kenya and the Horn of Africa

International Alert Mali

International Alert Rwanda

International Alert Tunisia

World Organisation Against Torture