Mr Francken hopes that the accord will serve to strengthen cooperation between Tunisia and Belgium regarding the return of criminal that are residing in Belgium illegally.
Last year police in Belgium detained 638 Tunisians that were staying here illegally. Most of those detained were picked up for public order offences. There are currently 123 Tunisians that are in the country illegally locked up in Belgian prisons.
The cooperation of the Tunisian Government is needed if they are to be repatriated. The Tunisian authorities’ assistance is required to identify the prisoners and grant them laissez-passers. However, in the past this hasn’t always been forthcoming or it simply took too long. This meant that the maximum period a person can be kept in a secure migrant facility (8 months) was often exceed or was in danger of being exceeded.
As part of the accord the Tunisians have undertaken to have the formalities required to send Tunisians criminals back home completed within 45 days.