Human Rights Watch on 16 September called on the Libyan government to “immediately end what appears to be a policy that allows shooting at boats carrying migrants from Libya to Italy.” HRW also called for Italy to stop participating in joint patrols with Libya.
The request was made as a result of the incident on 12 September when a Libyan patrol boat fired on an Italian fishing vessel. After the incident, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni suggested that the Libyans “perhaps…confused the fishing boat for a boat with illegal migrants.” [”Posso immaginare che i libici abbiano confuso il peschereccio con una imbarcazione con immigrati irregolari, ma posso immaginare soltanto.”]
Bill Frelick, Refugee Program director at Human Rights Watch, said “the Libyans and Italians appear to agree that it was a mistake to shoot at Italian fishermen, but imply that it’s OK to shoot at migrants. The bullet-riddled boat shows a reckless use of potentially lethal force that would have been just as bad if it had actually targeted nonthreatening migrants. This incident shows once again the dangers when an EU member outsources its border controls to third countries. Italy should immediately end its agreement with Libya aimed at intercepting migrants trying to leave Libya.”
Click here for full HRW statement.
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