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Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture Report is Highly Critical of Italy’s Push-Back Practice

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published on 28 April its report on its visit to Italy in July 2009 and the official response to the report from the Italian Government.

In the CPT’s view, “Italy’s [push-back] policy, in its present form, of intercepting migrants at sea and obliging them to return to Libya or other non-European countries, violates the principle of non-refoulement, which forms part of Italy’s obligations under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

“The so-called push-back policy, as pursued by the Italian authorities and described in this report, does not meet [the] requirements [ of the ECHR]. The CPT urges the Italian authorities to substantially review forthwith the current practice of intercepting migrants at sea, so as to ensure that all persons within Italy’s jurisdiction – including those intercepted at sea outside Italian territorial waters by Italian-controlled vessels – receive the necessary humanitarian and medical care that their condition requires and that they have effective access to procedures and safeguards capable of guaranteeing respect for the principle of non-refoulement.”

The CPT is also very critical of the lack of cooperation received from the Italian Government: “Regrettably, the co-operation received at the central level [of the Italian Government] was, in certain respects, unsatisfactory. The delegation was denied access to some documents and information it had requested, which did not facilitate its task. Other information requested by the delegation prior to and in the course of the visit was not provided in a timely manner and when eventually furnished was, moreover, incomplete.”

“For instance, information requested pertaining, inter alia, to the logbooks from each push-back operation and the names of personnel responsible for the operations, which the authorities undertook to provide to the delegation, was subsequently refused on grounds of confidentiality. Also, the Italian authorities denied the existence of a list/inventory of objects seized from migrants in the course of a push-back operation, a copy of which the delegation had requested, and yet certain representatives of the Navy had told the delegation that such a list had indeed been compiled.”

“Further, the CPT’s delegation learned from the press, and not from the Italian authorities, that during the visit, on 29-30 July 2009, a push-back operation took place. … In the Committee’s view, when a CPT delegation carries out a visit to a Party to the Convention focussing on a specific issue made known in advance, the State authorities should, in a spirit of co-operation, endeavour to keep the visiting delegation informed of significant events pertaining to that same issue.”

Click here for CPT Press Release.

Click here for the CPT Report.

Click here for the Response of the Italian Government.

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