Italian Push-Back Policy Criticized by UN Human Rights Commissioner (News)

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay criticized the Italian policy of forcibly turning migrants back to Libya without screening in her speech to the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.  Italian government officials questioned the validity of Pillay’s criticism.

Pillay said ”In a tragic repetition last month, the deaths of migrants at sea, as well as the hardship of those who are left stranded near the shores of Libya, Malta, and Italy, once again drew attention to the plight of migrants and refugees. In many cases, authorities reject these migrants and leave them to face hardship and peril, if not death, as though they were turning away ships laden with dangerous waste”.

The push-back policy has had drastic results: “Last week, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said the policy had resulted in a 90% drop in migrant arrivals since it was launched in May ‘’From May 1 to August 31 2008 more than 15,000 migrants who set out from Libya landed in Italy. During the same period this year, we had 1,400 people, a 90% drop,’ Maroni said.”    “[S]ince May more than 1,000 people intercepted in international waters have been sent back to Libya.”

”A spokesperson for EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot … said the Italian government had provided a written response to the European Commission’s requests for further information about its push-back policy. ‘For now, the Commission’s offices are analyzing the content,’ said spokesperson Michele Cercone.”

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Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, United Nations

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