French and Italian Interior Ministers Claude Guéant and Roberto Maroni today have announced an agreement for “joint air and naval patrols” off the Tunisian coast to block departures from Tunisia. Guéant is quoted by Le Figaro as saying that the new measures would be carried out with assistance from Frontex, but the report is unclear whether he is calling for Frontex participation or announcing that Frontex will participate.
While there are no specifics details being reported about this agreement, it seems to constitute a new push-back practice where there will be little or no opportunity for asylum seekers or other persons of concern to be identified and afforded the protection to which they are entitled. It is simply not possible to intercept vessels at sea and adequately identify who is on board an overcrowded migrant boat and assess whether international protection is needed by anyone on board.
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