By George Grant.
Tripoli, 22 June:
The Italian foreign minister, Guilio Terzi, has defended the migration control agreement signed between his country and . . .[restrict]Libya last April, amidst renewed criticism from rights group Amnesty International.
On Wednesday, Amnesty called on the Italian government to “sink” the agreement, in which the Italian authorities are working with their counterparts in Tripoli to stem refugee flows from Libya, claiming “migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers risk serious human rights abuses there”.
Terzi has insisted that the accords “comply with international conventions” and “are based on respect for human dignity.
“I believe that the basic point is the Declaration of Tripoli, in which the NTC undertook along with the Italian government to comply with all existing international conventions concerning human rights, the rights of migrants, the conditions regarding human dignity and the dignity of the individual and this is the basic architecture on which all pre-existing accords were based and which will guide future technical stipulations”, the minister added.
However, Amnesty International has criticised the Italian government for failing to make the precise content of the accord public, and has claimed that the agreement runs in violation of its commitment not to return migrants to Libya following the European Court of Human Rights case, “Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy”.
In this case, the court ruled unanimously that Italy violated the European Convention of Human Rights by forcibly returning a group of asylum seekers by sea to Libya. Amnesty declined to mention that this incident took place in May 2009, whilst Libya was still ruled by the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.
The rights group has said that the Italian government should rescind all existing migration control agreements in Libya, until such time as Tripoli “demonstrates that it respects and protects the human rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants and puts in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognising claims for international protection.”
Italy’s interior minister, Anna Maria Cancellieri, has insisted her government would not be scrapping the agreement, but would continue to assist Libya in implementing the accord. “We are working on helping Libya to get the needed equipment and tools that will help prevent illegal immigration in secret through its coasts”, she said.