This past Tuesday, 30 August, marked the third anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Co-operation by Italy and Libya. The Agreement was signed in Benghazi in 2008 by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and then Libyan leader Gaddafi. The Agreement included a provision calling for the “intensification of the ongoing cooperation in the context of the fight against terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and clandestine migration.” (See p. 2 of UNHCR’s Third Party submission to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Hirsi and Others v. Italy (Application no. 27765/09) for more information regarding the history of the Agreement.) The Agreement, which included a provision for the payment by Italy to Libya of $5 billion in compensation for colonial occupation, paved the way for Libya’s implementation of the provisions of an earlier agreement signed in December 2007 which provided the basis for joint Italy-Libya maritime patrols and Italy’s so-called “push-back” practice. The first push-back operations began in May 2009. As I’ve noted in previous posts, the Libyan NTC has given Italy assurances that a new Libyan government will honour the terms of the Friendship Agreement.
Click here for UNHCR’s Third Party Submission to the ECtHR in the Hirsi case.