Tag Archives: Mediterranean

Italian Official: Migrants Forcibly Returned to Libya Never Ask For Asylum (News)

The Italian Government has rejected the ongoing criticism by HRW and others of its push back policy.

News24 reports that Interior undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano, stated that Italian authorities “have never denied” intercepted migrants the right to ask for asylum.  “Each operation to escort migrants back to Libya lasted more than 10 hours during which none of the people involved, asked to be recognised as refugees, nor did they say they were fleeing from persecution in their countries of origin, Mantovano said.”

According to Mantovano, 757 migrants have been forcibly returned to Libya between May 6 and August 30.

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Perejil Survivors Expelled from Morocco (News)

The 11 rescued survivors from the boat that sank near the Spanish island of Perejil this past Saturday have been deported from Morocco.  AFP quoted a Moroccan official saying “By order of the prosecutor, the 11 African escapees left Tangiers at about 2100 GMT (on Sunday) during an expulsion operation.”  The survivors, from Niger and Senegal, were probably expelled into Algeria.  While Moroccan officials believe there were 42 migrants on the boat, the Spanish Red Cross estimates the number at approximately 60.

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HRW Report: Italy’s Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya’s Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers (Reports)

Blog - HRW Cover

Human Rights Watch has released a report regarding Italy’s forcible push-back policy:

Pushed Back, Pushed Around – Italy’s Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya’s Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers

“On May 6, 2009, for the first time in the post-World War II era, a European state ordered its coast guard and naval vessels to interdict and forcibly return boat migrants on the high seas without doing any screening whatsoever to determine whether any passengers needed protection or were particularly vulnerable. The interdicting state was Italy; the receiving state was Libya.  Italian coast guard and finance guard patrol boats towed migrant boats from international waters without even a cursory screening to see whether some might be refugees or whether others might be sick or injured, pregnant women, unaccompanied children, or victims of trafficking or other forms of violence against women. The Italians disembarked the exhausted passengers on a dock in Tripoli where the Libyan authorities immediately apprehended and detained them.”

HRW’S Recommendations include:

“To the Government of Italy

  • Immediately cease interdicting and summarily returning boat migrants to Libya.
  • Investigate allegations that Italian naval personnel beat and used electric shocks to force interdicted boat migrants onto Libyan vessels and prosecute naval or coast guard officials who abused their authority, including those with command responsibility.
  • Stop cooperating with the Libyan authorities on the interdiction and interception of third-country nationals trying to leave Libya.
  • Make public all treaties and agreements between the governments of Italy and Libya.
  • Cease to fund or provide other bilateral support to Libya aimed at increasing that country’s effectiveness at intercepting asylum seekers and migrants before they take to the sea or before they reach Italian waters. Redirect such support into multilateral efforts, especially through UNHCR and OHCHR, to ensure that fundamental human rights standards relating to the treatment of such persons in Libya are observed.
  • Ensure access to full and fair asylum procedures, including the right to raise fear of treatment contrary to article 3 of the ECHR, for every person in the control of the Italian authorities, including those interdicted or rescued at sea.”

“To European Union Institutions and EU Member States

  • Demand that Italy not violate article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights by its interdiction and summary return of migrants to a place where they are subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Ensure access to full and fair asylum procedures, including the right to raise fear of treatment contrary to article 3 of the ECHR, for every person in the control of any EU member state, including those interdicted or rescued at sea.
  • Adopt clear, consistent, and binding rules on EU member states establishing responsibility for disembarking migrants rescued at sea.
  • Refrain from expelling third-country (non-Libyan) nationals to Libya, either directly or as partners in Frontex-coordinated operations, until Libya’s treatment of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees fully meets European standards in relation to persecution or risk of treatment contrary to article 3 ECHR. Under current conditions, the return of third-country nationals breaches European nonrefoulement obligations not to return people to inhuman or degrading treatment.
  • Encourage Libya to 1) ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol; 2) adopt a national asylum law; and 3) formally recognize UNHCR.
  • Display greater transparency in negotiations with Libya on all matters relating to migration and border controls.
  • Ensure  that the human rights clause in the Libya-EU Framework Agreement, being negotiated at the time of this writing, and in agreements flowing from it, contain explicit reference to the rights of asylum seekers and migrants as a prerequisite for any cooperation on migration-control schemes.
  • Refrain from encouraging Libya from establishing any reception regime which falls below the European reception condition standards
  • Quickly admit UNHCR-identified refugees in need of resettlement from Libya. Do so, however, only as a supplement rather than as a substitute for allowing spontaneous arrivals in EU territory to seek asylum.
  • Direct development assistance to improve respect for human rights and human dignity in migrants’ and asylum seekers’ countries of origin to address the root causes of forced migration.”

Click here for the report.

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Migrant Boat Sinks Between Morocco and Spain (News)

A migrant boat carrying between 40 to 60 migrants sank near Perejil, off the northern coast of Morocco.  More than five bodies have been recovered; more than 20 persons are presumed dead.  Rescued survivors have been taken by Spanish rescuers to Morocco.

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Accusation Against Italian Coast Guard Regarding Deaths of Migrants During 2008 Rescue Attempt (News)

An anonymous letter has reportedly been sent to an Italian prosecutor’s office and to the media accusing an Italian Coast Guard captain of mishandling a rescue attempt in June 2008 during which up to 15 migrants were killed.  The survivors were reportedly taken to Malta after the incident.

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Propondrá Besson a la UE Que Se Intercepten Inmigrantes en el Mar (News)

“Francia quiere que la UE dé su visto bueno para poder interceptar y repatriar inmigrantes ilegales en el mar, según informó hoy el ministro de Inmigración francés, Eric Besson, en una carta que envió a sus homólogos comunitarios.”

“Besson considera inaudita la presión que los traficantes de inmigrantes ilegales ejercen en las fronteras de la UE y considera que la [Frontex] precisa una nueva doctrina basada en la interceptación y repatriación, pero que al mismo tiempo respete el derecho de asilo.  El ministro francés propuso también una mayor cooperación entre Frontex y los países de los que parten los inmigrantes.”

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Besson Calls For Intercepting Migrants on High Seas (News)

Eric Besson, French immigration minister, has proposed five measures for reinforcing the EU border against irregular immigration, including:

-a new doctrine of engagement for maritime operations overseen by Frontex in the Mediterranean focusing on interception and return of migrants, with respect for international obligations; and

-increased operational cooperation between Frontex and departure countries so as to coordinate maritime control operations.

Besson will present the five measures at the EU council of ministers meeting in Brussels on 21 September.

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Besson propose une nouvelle doctrine d’engagement pour les opérations maritimes (News)

Eric Besson, ministre de l’Immigration de la France propose cinq mesures pour renforcer l’action de l’Union Européenne contre l’immigration irrégulière:

– L’élaboration d’une nouvelle doctrine d’engagement pour les opérations maritimes conduites par Frontex en Méditerranée, tournée vers l’interception et la reconduite, dans le respect des obligations internationales notamment en matière d’asile.

– Une coopération opérationnelle renforcée entre Frontex et les Etats de départ des migrants, afin de coordonner les actions de contrôle en mer.

– L’installation d’un état-major de Frontex en Méditerranée, pour coordonner les opérations de surveillance et de contrôle au plus près du terrain.

– L’affrètement par Frontex de vols groupés pour des opérations conjointes de reconduite à la frontière

– La création d’un programme « Erasmus » pour les gardes-frontières en Europe, coordonné par Frontex, afin de faire émerger progressivement une véritable communauté professionnelle à l’échelle de l’Europe.

Besson présentera ces mesures lors du prochain conseil des ministres, lundi 21 septembre à Bruxelles.

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68 Migrants Arrive in Malta (News)

68 migrants from Eritrea were brought to Malta by an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat after their boat lost power near Malta.

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Photo: Mark Tabone/AFM Maritime Squadron

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EC Commissioner Barrot: Forced Returns Inconsistent With EU Law (News)

At the end of a debate on immigration at the European Parliament, EC Commissioner for Freedom, Justice and Security, Jacques Barrot, said it was necessary to respect the “principle of no forced returns established by the EU legislation with regard to people crossing the outer borders of the EU.”  “[R]eturns [should not be ] carried out to countries where people risk being subjected to degrading and inhuman treatment.”

Barrot said the Commission was still reviewing the Italian government’s response to the request for clarification of  the Italian migrant push-back policy.

Click here for article.

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¿First Frontex Forced Repatriation Operation? (18 June Repatriation Near Malta) (News)

Malta Today reported that the forced repatriation operation involving 74 migrants that took place on 18 June was the first time that Frontex ever coordinated a forced repatriation operation at sea.

“Even though the migrants were intercepted by an Italian coast guard boat, the same migrants, that included women and children, were identified by a Frontex asset that followed the operation through.”

The operation, part of Nautilus IV, used a German helicopter, the Italian coast guard, and a Libyan patrol boat.

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