Libya’s decision to expel the UNHCR from Libya was made public during the seventh round of Framework Agreement talks between the EU and Libya. The talks concluded yesterday in Tripoli. “[Libya’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Tahar] Sayala said the main stumbling blocks to progress were illegal immigration and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which Libya does not recognise. [Sayala] said Libya wanted financing and equipment [from the EU] for the surveillance of its borders, both on land and sea.”
Amnesty International criticized the decision to expel the UNHCR and called on Libya to reverse the decision:
“[***] The move to expel the UNHCR came against the backdrop of the 7th round of negotiations, which started on 6 June in Tripoli, between Libya and the EU over a Framework Agreement, which addresses bilateral cooperation in the control of irregular migration, among other issues, including potential readmission agreements for third-country nationals, who have transited through Libya on their way to Europe. EU member states, most notably Italy, have been seeking Libya’s assistance in decreasing the flow of arrivals of asylum-seekers and migrants to European shores. The expulsion of the UNHCR further casts doubt on Libya’s commitment to respect its obligations under the Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. It also shows how essential it is to include effective human rights safeguards and adequate standards of protection in any bilateral agreements with Libya in the field of the control of migration. [***]”
The European Commission also expressed “concern” with Libya’s decision “but sees it as one more reason to engage in ‘dialogue’ with General Gaddafi’s country on immigration and asylum.”
And as noted by Michèle Morel on International Law Observer, even though Libya is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention, Libya is bound by customary international law which prohibits refoulement to countries where there is a risk of torture, “[t]herefore, while Libya itself has no asylum system for the examination of asylum seekers’ situations, refusing to allow UNHCR to carry out its activities in Libya would amount to a violation of international human rights law.”
Click here for Amnesty International’s statement.
Click here for link to ILO post.