Tag Archives: Libyan National Transitional Council

Pillay: Extreme Concern Regarding Ill-Treatment of Detainees in Libya, Including Large Number of Sub-Saharan Africans

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay addressed the UN Security Council on 25 January regarding the situation in Libya.  Pillay expressed extreme concern regarding the conditions of detention in Libya faced by thousands of detainees, including a large number of Sub-Saharan African nationals, and called for all detention centres to be brought under the control of the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s Office.

Amnesty International and MSF have both just released additional reports documenting ongoing torture of detainees in Libya.

Excerpts from Pillay’s statement:

“The Interim Government still does not exercise effective control over the revolutionary brigades and this has human rights repercussions in a number of areas. …

A related area that I am extremely concerned about is the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees held by various revolutionary brigades. The ICRC visited over 8,500 detainees in approximately 60 places of detention between March and December 2011. The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-Saharan African nationals. The lack of oversight by the central authorities creates an environment conducive to torture and ill-treatment. My staff have received alarming reports that this is happening in places of detention that they have visited.

It is therefore urgent that all detention centres are brought under the control of the Ministry of Justice and the General Prosecutor’s Office. Moreover, a structure and process for judicial screening of detainees should be put in place immediately so that those detainees held without any legal basis can be released while others receive a fair trial. … However, detainees continue to be held in unacceptable circumstances outside any legal framework or the protection of the state….”

Click here for Pillay’s Statement.

Click here for AI Statement.

Click here for MSF Statement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Libya, News, OHCHR, Reports, Statements

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states

Statewatch released an Analysis by Yasha Maccanico entitled “The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states.”  The Analysis provides a description of Italy’s responses to the migrant arrivals in 2011 caused by the unrest in North Africa.

Excerpts:  “The ‘crisis’ reveals questionable practices and routine abuses – The measures adopted in response to the increasing number of migrants arriving from north African countries serve to highlight a number of practices that have become commonplace in Italy in recent years.

The first of these is a widening of the concept of ‘emergency.’ Calling an emergency gives the government a wider remit to derogate from specified laws so as to resolve situations that cannot be dealt with through ordinary measures….

Although the situation in north Africa was worrying, the emergency was called when slightly over 5,000 migrants had arrived. An analysis by Massimiliano Vrenna and Francesca Biondi Dal Monte for ASGI notes that the government has repeatedly called and extended states of emergency since 2002 to deal with immigration, which is treated as though it were a “natural calamity” even when there is a wholly predictable influx of people from third countries. The urgent need specified in decrees declaring a state of emergency is to conduct ‘activities to counter the exceptional – later referred to as massive – influx of immigrants on Italian territory’ (as happened on 11 December 2002, 7 November 2003, 23 December 2004, 28 October 2005, 16 March 2007, 31 December 2007, 14 February 2008 for Sicily, Calabria and Apulia and was extended to the whole nation on 25 July 2008 and 19 November 2009), stemming from a prime ministerial decree of 20 March 2002. Thus, Vrenna and Biondi Dal Monte’s observation that the emergency is ‘structural’ appears well-founded. It has serious repercussions for the treatment of migrants (see below) and the awarding of contracts outside of normal procedures, with the involvement of the civil protection department whose competencies have been expanding considerably.

The second practice involves the expulsion, refoulement or deportation of migrants outside the limits and procedures established by legislation for this purpose. The failure to identify people, to issue formal decisions on an individual basis to refuse them entry or expel them, or to give them the opportunity to apply for asylum or other forms of protection, was a key concern when boats were intercepted at sea and either the vessels or their passengers were taken back to Libya between May and September 2009, when 1,329 people were returned. These rights were also denied to people arriving from Egypt and Tunisia in application of readmission agreements in the framework of the fight against illegal migration. Their presumed nationality was deemed sufficient to enact expulsions to these countries, because ongoing cooperation and good relations with Italy appeared sufficient to indicate that they were not in need of protection, regardless of the situation in their home countries. ….

The third practice is the ill-treatment of migrants held in detention centres. Without dealing with this issue in depth, it is worth noting that what could be viewed as arbitrary detention is occurring on a large scale, in the absence of formal measures decreeing detention and without the possibility of appealing against decisions. In fact, after landing, migrants are summarily identified as either ‘illegal’ migrants or asylum seekers, largely on the basis of their nationality….”

Click here for Analysis.

1 Comment

Filed under Analysis, Egypt, European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, Tunisia

Ashton in Tripoli – EU Ready to Resume Negotiations on Framework Agreement / Prepared to Immediately Fund Re-Activation of Suspended Migration Programmes

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton travelled to Tripoli on 12 November to open the new EU Delegation office (headed by James Moran) and to meet with Libyan NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel-Jalil.

From an EU Press Release:  “…  The EU also stands ready to resume negotiations on a Framework Agreement which can serve as a basis for political, economic, social and cultural dialogue and cooperation with the new Libya, whenever the new authorities decide that is the right moment to do so. The same principle applies to the possibility of having Libya joining regional initiatives where the EU is involved….”

“…Beyond tackling the most pressing humanitarian needs, the EU is already preparing both immediate measures to support the stabilisation priorities of the National Transitional Council (NTC), as well as longer-term support programmes. It was agreed at the international conference in Paris on 2 September 2011 that the EU will conduct needs assessment for the following sectors: border management; strengthening civil society and women’s rights, and media/strategic communications, while the UN and the World Bank, with which the EU is working very closely, will lead assessments in other areas. In addition, the EU has already deployed experts in communications, civil society, border management and security, and procurement.   In addition to its humanitarian assistance, the European Commission can make up to €30 million available for immediate stabilisation needs, including through the re-activation of programmes in the field of migration that were suspended when conflict began….” [emphasis added]

Click here for full press release.

Leave a comment

Filed under European Union, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Trapped Migrants Face Increasing Violence at Sidi Bilal Near Tripoli

From Refugees International, 7 October:  “More than 600 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are effectively stranded at a port just outside the Libyan capital, and have been left to fend for themselves by Libyan authorities. Despite repeated attacks, harassment, and arbitrary arrests by Libyan gangs over the course of four months, they have received no protection from the National Transitional Council (NTC). Refugees International calls on the NTC and all local authorities – including the civilian councils in Janzour and Tripoli, and the Tripoli Military Council – to intervene immediately to protect the population at Sidi Bilal port and ensure their safe relocation to a temporary site.  ‘The men in these camps are routinely harassed and accused of being pro-Gaddafi mercenaries, the women are targets of sexual abuse. All face intimidation by armed Libyan thugs who drive into the port at night firing guns into the air,’ said Matt Pennington, an advocate for Refugees International currently in Libya. ‘Of course, many migrants told us they don’t really want to leave Libya – since they have nothing to return to in their home countries. But even for those who want to stay in Libya, their situation is becoming intolerable.’  …  So far, the UN World Food Programme has delivered one food drop to the imperilled migrants, while the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration have been attempting to negotiate safe relocation for those who want to stay and repatriation for those who want to return home. But what the population of Sidi Bilal most urgently needs is protection, and Libyan and UN authorities must act swiftly to provide it.”

Click here for full statement.

Leave a comment

Filed under Libya, Mediterranean, Reports, Statements, UNHCR

Italy and Libyan NTC Take Further Steps to Reactivate Italian-Libyan Friendship Agreement

Italian Foreign Minster Franco Frattini traveled to Tripoli on 30 September for meetings with the NTC President Mustafa Abdel Jalil and Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.  Frattini and Jibril met one week earlier on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Meeting.  Italy and the NTC signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint coordination committee whose function will be to prepare for the reactivation of Italy-Libya Friendship Agreement as soon as a new Libyan government assumes office.

Click here and here for articles. (IT)

Click here for statement from Italian Foreign Ministry. (IT)

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

3rd Anniversary of Italy-Libya Treaty on Friendship, Partnership and Co-operation

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 (IT), here (EN), and here (EN) for articles from 2008.

Click here for UNHCR’s Third Party Submission to the ECtHR in the Hirsi case.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Italy Hopes to Revive Libyan Friendship Treaty, Including Migration Control Provisions

Italian officials, including Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa, said yesterday that the Italian-Libyan friendship treaty signed in 2008 by Prime Minister Berlusconi and Gaddafi should be revived once a new government takes power in Libya.  The head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has previously said that the provisions of the treaty, including the migration control provisions, would be respected by the new Libyan government.  Italian Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Mantica, is quoted by ANSA as saying that “the first duty of Italy will be to update the part [of the treaty] relating to migration” as soon as the situation in Libya has stabilized. [“Mantica ha spiegato che ‘il primo dovere dell’Italia sarà quello di aggiornare la parte che riguarda i flussi migratori’ del Trattato di amicizia italo-libico, non appena la situazione in Libia si sarà stabilizzata.”]

Click here and here for articles. (IT)

Click here and here for previous posts about Libyan NTC’s statements regarding the treaty.


Filed under European Union, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

ANSA Video Shows Libyan Rebel Forces Abusing Sub-Saharan Migrants

ANSA has posted a cell phone video reportedly made by a Nigerian migrant who is now in Lampedusa.  The ANSA article says the video was taken in Kufra, near the Libya-Sudan border, but does not say when the video was taken.  According to ANSA the video shows a group of migrants blocked by anti-government forces. “The refugees, including some children can be seen, their hands are tied by the military and are forced to grovel. The images show men in uniform, armed with machine guns Kalashnikov, striking the immigrants with some whips.”

(“I profughi, tra i quali si notano alcuni minori, hanno le mani legate e sono costretti dai militari a strisciare per terra. Le immagini riprendono gli uomini in divisa, armati con mitra Kalasnikov, mentre colpiscono gli immigrati con alcuni frustini.”)

Click here for article and here for video. (IT)

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Memorandum of Understanding Between Italy and Libyan NTC

The MOU between Italy and the Libyan National Transitional Council signed last Friday, 17 June, is a short 1 ½ page memorandum that makes reference to four previous agreements signed by the Libyan and Italian governments.

Thank you to ASGI – Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione for bringing this document to my attention.  See ASGI’s press release where it sets forth its doubt about the legality of this new agreement with the NTC.

Excerpts from the MOU (using Google translate):


[The Italian Government and the NTC] [c]onfirm their commitment to a shared management of migration, primarily through the application of the Italian-Libyan cooperation in combating terrorism, organized crime, trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and illegal immigration , signed in Rome 13 December 2000 and subsequent Protocols of cooperation on migration of December 29, 2007, with its Additional Act of February 4, 2009, – and 7 December 2010.

In this context, the Parties will exchange information on the flows of illegal immigrants on criminal organizations that promote them, on modus operandi and the routes taken and the organizations specialized in forging documents and passports, as well as mutual assistance and cooperation in the fight against illegal migration, including repatriation of illegal immigrants.

To this end, agree to perform, as soon as there are conditions, regular consultations between the respective competent bodies, according to art. 5 of the said Agreement.”


Confermano l’impegno ad una gestione condivisa del fenomeno migratorio, in primo luogo attraverso l’applicazione dell’Accordo italo-libico per la collaborazione nella lotta al terrorismo, alla criminalità organizzata, al traffico di stupefacenti e di sostanze psicotrope ed all’immigrazione clandestina, firmato a Roma il 13 dicembre 2000 e dei successivi Protocolli di collaborazione in materia migratoria del 29 dicembre 2007, con relativo Atto aggiuntivo del 04 febbraio 2009,- e del 7 dicembre 2010.

In tale ambito, le Parti procederanno allo scambio di informazioni sui flussi di immigrazione illegale, sulle organizzazioni criminali che li favoriscono, sui modus operandi e sugli itinerari seguiti e sulle organizzazioni specializzate nella falsificazione di documenti e di passaporti, nonché alla reciproca assistenza e cooperazione nella lotta all’immigrazione illegale, incluso il rimpatrio di immigrati in posizione irregolare.

A tal fine convengono di effettuare, non appena ve ne saranno le condizioni, regolari consultazioni tra i competenti rispettivi organismi, come previsto dall’art. 5 del suddetto Accordo.”

Click here for MOU. (IT)

Click here for ASGI Press Release. (IT)

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News

Italy and Libyan National Transitional Council Sign Migration Agreement

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Mahmud Jabril, the head of the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC), signed a migration agreement today in Naples.  The agreement provides for “mutual assistance and cooperation in combating illegal migration, including repatriation of illegal immigrants.” Frattini is quoted by media reports that Italy “is ready to help the NTC in terms of equipment and facilities, as we did with Tunisia, providing the tools to patrol and prevent the illegal trips.” Jabril said that with the agreement “we reaffirm the commitment of the NTC to respect previous agreements by Libya” with Italy and that “illegal immigration in our opinion will shape relations between Europe and Africa for the next 25 years.”

Click here, here, here, and here for articles.  (IT)

1 Comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR

UNHCR Denies Any Involvement with Italy-Libyan National Transitional Council Migrant Agreement

UNHCR spokesperson Laura Boldrini has said that the UNHCR was surprised at Foreign Minister Frattini’s claim that UNHCR was somehow involved in any new migration agreement between Italy and the Libyan National Transitional Council.  According to TM News Boldrini said  “there is no involvement of any kind relating to these operations and [UNHCR] reiterates its opposition to any action of expulsion at sea of ​​migrants heading for the Italian coast.”

Click here (IT) for article.

[UPDATE:   Click here and here for articles where Frattini clarifies he did not intend to suggest that UNHCR would be involved in the new agreement.   The agreement in question is being referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in the Fight Against Illegal Immigration, Terrorism, Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking.  (Un Memorandum d’ Intesa per la collaborazione nella lotta all’ immigrazione clandestina, al terrorismo, alla criminalità organizzata ed al traffico di stupefacenti.)


Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Statements, UNHCR

Frattini Says Migrant Repatriation Agreement to be Signed Tomorrow with Libyan National Transitional Council

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said earlier today that an agreement would be signed tomorrow between the Italian government and the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC).  While no specific details of the agreement are being reported yet, the agreement will supposedly commit the NTC to taking steps to prevent the departure of migrants and also includes a repatriation agreement.  Frattini also said that the UNHCR will be a party to the agreement.  Frattini is quoted as saying that “unlike what happened with Gaddafi this agreement sees the UNHCR fully involved.”

Click here (IT), here (FR), here (IT), here (IT), and here (IT) for articles.

[Update: UNHCR has expressed suprise at Frattini’s statement and said that it has no invovlement with this new agreement.]

Leave a comment

Filed under Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, UNHCR