The Italian Government formally responded to the EC request for details regarding its push-back policy that has been in effect since May. The response is contained in a letter dated 8 September and released to the media today.
Italy claims that none of the 757 migrants intercepted since May and subsequently forcibly returned to Libya made a request for asylum: none of the immigrants taken to Libya between May 6 and August 30 ”made any request for international protection or mention of persecution in their own country”.
The claim by Italy that not a single migrant asked for protection strains credulity. It is inconsistent with among other things the incident in August when 75 Somali migrants who were intercepted by the Italians used a satellite telephone to call a BBC reporter in Italy to request help before they were turned over to Libyan authorities. One caller told the BBC reporter ”we told the Italian military that we wanted to request asylum and asked them not to hand us over to the Libyans because we were afraid of going to jail, but they wouldn’t listen to us.” Click here for the article regarding this incident.
The Italian letter also seeks to counter criticism that Libya does not protect the rights of asylum seekers and is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Protocol by noting that Libya has ratified an African Union Convention on refugees ”obliging it to guarantee protection of anyone facing persecution”.
Click here for article.