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European rights chief queries Italy's migrant cooperation with Libya

Europe
11.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Paris (dpa) - The Council of Europe‘s human rights commissioner has warned Italy that it risks breaching European rights law if it hands migrants over to Libyan authorities.

Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, in a letter to Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti published on Wednesday, asked for clarification about the deployment of Italian navy ships inside Libyan territorial waters to help the Libyan coastguard tackle people-smuggling.

Muiznieks said that UN and NGO reports on the treatment of migrants in Libya indicated that "handing individuals over to the Libyan authorities or other groups in Libya would expose them to a real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

He asked Minniti to clarify the nature of Italy‘s support for Libyan authorities, and what safeguards Italy was putting in place to ensure that any persons intercepted or rescued by Italian vessels in Libyan waters were not subsequently put at risk of inhuman treatment.

In August, after Rome sealed deals with the Libyan coastguard with EU support, there were only about 3,900 migrant landings in Italy, less than a fifth compared to August 2016 levels.

The same month, the Italian parliament authorized a naval operation along the Libya coast to combat people-smuggling.

A UN report published last December said that migrants detained in Libya had no access to any legal process and malnutrition and disease were rife in detention centres.

Minniti has said that improving migrants‘ living conditions in Libya, mainly through boosting the on-the-ground presence of UN staff, is his "personal obsession."

 

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