On Tuesday, the Belgian and Tunisian secretaries of state for Migration, respectively Theo Francken and Adel Jarboui, signed an agreement. Its ambit is to facilitate the return of undocumented Tunisians living in Belgium back to Tunisia.
Mr Francken (New Flemish Alliance) says that this agreement strengthens Belgium’s collaboration with Tunisia for the return of such undocumented individuals, and those who have been found guilty by the courts, to Tunisia.
Last year 638 undocumented Tunisians living in Belgium were arrested for questioning by Belgian police, the majority for public order offences. There are currently 123 Tunisians without established residence status within Belgium’s prisons.
The collaboration of the Tunisian authorities is required to return these Tunisians to their country of origin, so as to complete identification checks and to issue the necessary transit papers. It is felt that the collaboration effort has not been operating at its most efficient up to now, as the time for processing individual cases by the Tunisian authorities often exceeds the maximum time limit for holding detainees in a detention centre (currently eight months). In the agreement signed on Tuesday, Tunisia has made a commitment to produce identification papers within 45 days.