Sub-Saharans in Tunisia: The untruths expounded by president Kais Saied

Tunisia’s president has accused civil society of fomenting the country’s colonization by undocumented migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Kais Saied denounces those who wish to « change the demographic composition » of Tunisia, evoking their « violence and criminality ». His proof? Contacted by Nawaat, the Interior Ministry affirmed that it does not have statistics regarding the number of migrants implicated in criminal activities. A glimpse at the facts exposes the president’s xenophobic fiction for what it is.

Feminist outcry against Tunisia’s electoral law

The new electoral law unilaterally decreed by president Kais Saied spurred outcry among women’s rights advocates in Tunisia. In protest of the new legislation, a feminist movement formed of nine associations staged a sit-in before the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE). As these activists voice demands for absolute parity between men and women in the public sphere, the president’s backwards approach to equality threatens to reverse women’s political gains.

Sub-Saharan migrants in Tunisia: Marginalization of a replacement workforce

Some 57 thousand sub-Saharan migrants are currently living in Tunisia, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). To make ends meet, many of them take on precarious, underpaid jobs as builders, servers and agricultural workers. This demographic of foreign workers has replaced a Tunisian workforce that has shown itself reluctant to such economic activities. In the meantime, Tunisian legislation has failed to address what is becoming a dire socio-economic dilemma, as the absence of clear policy leaves free rein to all sorts of abuses against migrant workers.

Sea in danger, contaminated by human and industrial waste

Stretching across a distance of 1,300 kilometers, the Tunisian coastline is one of the country’s most treasured riches. And pollution threatens to destroy it. Every year, the Ministry of Health publishes a list of beaches where swimming is prohibited. The most obvious culprit is the National Sanitation Utility (ONAS). Water analyses indicate the presence of significant levels of fecal matter in the sea. But the government’s laissez-faire policies offer no incentive for industrial facilities to limit the pollutants they release into the environment.

Access to health care: It’s sink or swim for migrants in Tunisia

Tunisia is home to an ever-growing migrant population. And yet many migrants remain in an irregular situation. In the absence of a complete legal framework for refugees and asylum seekers, access to health services for this heterogeneous community is not only inadequate, but in some cases even non-existent. For certain migrants, their inability to seek proper treatment is a disadvantage with potentially fatal consequences.

Kais Saied and the Judiciary: A Clash of Powers?

Judiciary officials are under fire from President Kais Saied. Saied does not mince his words when it comes to the country’s magistrates, reproaching them for complicity with all kinds of corrupt individuals. Accused of promoting impunity, magistrates have defended themselves by pointing to political interference in their domain. It’s open war on a battlefield where needed reforms have been blocked.

Radwan Masmoudi: Soft Power Arm of Tunisia’s Islamists

Since the president’s sweeping decisions announced on July 25, Ennahdha member Radwan Masmoudi has waged a media war against Kais Saied. A controversial figure, Masmoudi has long juggled between his activities in civil society and in politics. And this is not the first time that his statements have elicited so much controversy and raised questions about his connections both within and outside of Tunisia.

Amending Law 52 on narcotics: A Mixed Track Record

When three young people were recently sentenced to 30 years in prison in accordance with Law 52 on narcotics, it sparked controversy. A debate has reignited over the repressive nature of the law and the fate of drug consumers locked up for smoking a joint. Meanwhile, collectives and associations have come out calling for the depenalization and decriminalization of drug consumption. Their demand is not a new one, but it remains hostage to political procrastination. In 2017, the law was amended to be less restrictive, but has its application followed suit? What changes have taken place since 2017?


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