At a press conference held last week, Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelali asked the European Union for assistance in dealing with new immigration flows and specifically requested assistance to renovate 19 existing migrant detention centres. (Global Detention Project identified 27 dedicated immigration detention centres in Libya as of late 2009.)
Libyan officials have said recently that irregular migration flows are resuming. AFP reported that Libyan interior ministry spokesman General Abdelmonem al-Tunsi said on 19 January “that illegal immigration had resumed since the end of the anti-Kadhafi revolt” and “thousands of people from … Syria were also entering through the Massad terminal on the border with Egypt, apart from Africans infiltrating through the southern borders.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti traveled to Tripoli on 21 January to meet with the Libyan NTC. Prior to his trip Amnesty International sent Monti a letter urging him to address numerous matters with the Libyans, including the eradication of torture, reforming the criminal justice system, and ratifying the Refugee Convention.
Amnesty also called upon Italy not to resume push-back operations at sea and to refrain from cooperating with Libya on other migration control practices until appropriate reforms are instituted within Libya. There are fears that Italy is moving towards resuming coordination with Libya on immigration control matters. Italian Interior Minister Anne Marie Cancellieri is reportedly scheduled to travel to Tripoli next month to discuss bilateral cooperation on immigration.
Translated excerpts from Amnesty’s press statement regarding the AI letter to PM Monti:
“With regard to cooperation on migration between Italy and Libya, Amnesty International calls on the Italian Government:
- To desist from conducting any operation of ‘refoulement’ (deportation) at sea to Libya and cooperating with Libya to intercept migrants and reject them;
- To set aside the Memorandum of Understanding on ‘migration control’, signed with the National Transitional Council (CNT) on June 17, 2011, until a thorough review is conducted of the impact on human rights agreements signed by the two countries in this area, and until the necessary changes have been introduced in order to ensure that the ‘immigration control’ is never carried out at the expense of human rights;
- To ensure that all forms of cooperation with the Libyan authorities are absolutely transparent and subject to the commitment and ability of both parties to fully respect the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, and are consistent with the international law of human rights and international refugee law….”
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