Maghreb: A safe region?

No country can be deemed « safe ». That is the spirit of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees which provides for the individual examination of each asylum claim: each personal situation is unique and no country is free from malfunctioning or human rights violations including in the Maghreb or within the European Union (EU).

To label a country as a “safe country of origin” suggests that there is no general risk of persecution and that the state of law is respected. A “safe” country can also be categorised as a “safe third country” where asylum-seekers who have transited through the said country may be returned there because their asylum procedures is in line with international and European refugee law standards. The notion of safety as an examination tool can have dire consequences on asylum-seekers’ rights (see analysis): accelerated procedures, non-suspensive appeals, claim likely to be rejected if not inadmissible in the case of safe third countries.

The AEDH, EuroMed Rights, and the FIDH are opposed to the use of the notion of « safety ». On 13 May 2016, the German Bundestag has given its approval to the listing of Maghreb as “safe” countries of origin. This policy development was preceded, in early 2016, by the conclusion of agreement with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia so as to facilitate the readmission of rejected asylum seekers originating from these countries.

Out of the 28 Member States of the EU, only 12 have a national “safe countries of origin” list; only Bulgaria has listed Algeria as a safe country of origin and no other Member State has deemed Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia as such so far.

The degree of respect for civil liberties and individual freedoms directly impact on the situation of nationals, refugees and migrants. This factsheet gives an overview of the situation in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia in specific domains, some of which are in direct link with the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. It is by no means an exhaustive picture of the human rights situation, nor does it gets into the specifics of each the three countries.

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