Tag Archives: Migration Cooperation Agreement

ECRE Critical of EU Migration Agreement with Libya

ECRE has posted a statement on its web site that is very critical of the recent EU-Libya Migration agreement.  Also posted is an interview with MEP Sylvie Guillaume (S&D, France) who is a member of the LIBE Committee where she discusses the human rights implications of the EU agreement.

Excerpts from ECRE’s Statement:  “It is difficult to understand why the EU is finalising a deal with the political dictatorship in Libya on issues that impact the fundamental rights of thousands of people. In June this year, Tripoli ordered the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to close its offices in the country, a perfect illustration of Libya’s particular understanding of refugee protection and the unreliable nature of the regime under Colonel Gaddafi. Can we honestly think that refugees are safe in Libya? …

Through this ‘migration cooperation agenda’, the EU is trusting Libya to stop irregular migration towards Europe and to decide on the fate of those asylum seekers who will find it now even harder to reach safety in Europe. This follows last year’s highly questionable agreement between Rome and Tripoli to allow Italy to push back migrants to Libya without assessing their need for international protection. Since then, hardly any refugee has managed to reach Italy by sea. The EU Governments and the European Commission have so far turned a blind eye….

In particular, EU representatives have committed to assist Tripoli in reinforcing its capacity to prevent migrants from entering Libya through its Southern borders and in developing its patrolling capacities in its territorial waters and at high sea. The agreement also covers EU’s assistance to Libya in screening migrants in order to identify those in need of international protection. By setting up EU-sponsored asylum processing centres in Libya, EU States would evade their obligations to protect refugees and shift the responsibility to a country with an appalling human rights record….”

Click here for full statement.

Click here (EN) and here (FR) for interview with MEP Sylvie Guillaume.

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Filed under European Union, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, Statements, UNHCR

Cecilia Malmström: Back From Libya

Commissioner Malmström writes her own blog, Cecilia Malmström Mitt Europa (My Europe).  Here is her most recent posting regarding her trip to Libya (translated from Swedish with Google Translate).  There are several points worth noting – and worrying about.  She notes that Libya is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or 1967 Protocol.  (Though Libya is a signatory to the OAU Refugee Convention.)  She suggests that the new migration agreement between the EU and Libya will involve the UNHCR, but no insight is offered regarding whether or how the UNHCR might return to Libya.  She concedes that the European Commission does not know all of the details of the bi-lateral agreement between Italy and Libya which has resulted in the current push-back practice in the central Mediterranean.  And she seems to say that she was greatly troubled by what she saw when she visited one of the southern migrant detention centres in Libya during her official trip.

Translated excerpts:

“Just returned from Libya … I have been there to try to initiate a dialogue between the EU and Libya on issues relating to asylum, migration and international protection. … I believe it is necessary to have a dialogue with Libya.

Libya has not signed the Geneva Convention and the concept of asylum is not in Libyan law. … Since Italy and Libya signed an agreement, which we unfortunately do not know everything about, it has basically been that case that no boats are crossing the Mediterranean.

Against this background, I see it as progress that the first time we have agreed a text with Libya, a version of a plan for cooperation, which deals with issues of asylum and international protection…  Our aim is to identify people in need of international protection, while helping Libya to raise standards in the detention centres in order to provide decent conditions to people. We also address the issues of border control, labor migration and human smuggling in this plan for cooperation. From the EU side, we are prepared to put up 50 million euros over three years to support reforms. These will obviously not be given as a blank check to Libya but will be provided using the guidelines of the European Commission. For example, we support specific projects by various organizations, including the UNHCR.

Besides holding talks with Libyan ministers, I also visited Libya’s southern border in the middle of the desert, observed International Organisation for Migration activities in Libya, and visited one of the detention centres where many migrants have ended up. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the people there.  Several of these stories that I heard have kept both me and my staff awake at night. …”

Click here for the full posting.


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

EU and Libya Sign “Unclear” Migration Cooperation Agreement

At the end of a two day visit to Tripoli, 4-5 October, Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, and Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood, signed a “migration cooperation agenda” with Libya.  The European Commission issued a Press Release with details of the negotiations and signed agreement.

The specific contents of the full agreement and negotiations however are not clear.  “‘What worries us is the vagueness of the deal,’ Annelise Baldaccini from Amnesty International told [euobserver.com]. ‘We do not know what the EU has signed up to. It mentions for instance addressing the burden of recognised refugees and rejected asylum seekers, but it does not say what this involves.’”

Here are some excerpts from the Commission press release:

In the framework of the visit an agreement on a migration cooperation agenda was signed yesterday evening in Tripoli by Commissioner Malmström, Commissioner Füle, M. Moussa Koussa, the Secretary of General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, and M. Yunis Al-Obeidi, the Secretary of General People’s Committee for Public Security. This is a Cooperation agenda between the European Commission and Libya, including concrete steps on border surveillance system, mobility-related issues, smuggling and trafficking in human beings, and dialogue on refugees and international protection.

Commenting the signature of the Cooperation agenda Commissioner Malmström said: ”It is my objective to put the protection of fundamental rights of all people involved in migratory and asylum flows at the centre of our efforts in the EU relationship with Libya. The Cooperation Agenda will enable us also to promote initiatives aimed at better protecting and assisting the rights of migrants and refugees’.

Commissioner Füle said: “I welcome agreeing on this cooperation agenda because this is an important first step to solve the serious challenge irregular migration poses not only to Libya but also to the EU. This step is part of the much broader relationship we are trying to build together. It was clear from our talks in Tripoli that both EU and Libya have at heart to sustain the new momentum in our relationship over recent months.”

The EU and Libya also discussed the establishment of an informal group of senior officials that would oversee the implementation of the list of possible initiatives in the field of migration cooperation. The proposed initiatives will be implemented through a variety of means, ranging from the sharing of experience and best practices, as well as financing of actions, including the acquisition of equipment in accordance with applicable rules.

Both sides agreed on the following initiatives for possible further dialogue and cooperation.

1. Regional and Pan african dialogue and cooperation

  • Increasing joint efforts in the development of African countries of origin of migration. This would build on the serious and substantial efforts of Libya and the European Union as major donors to African countries. In this context, the EU and Libya will continue to address root causes of migration in the countries of origin of migrants travelling through Libya and creating viable alternatives to migration in these countries.
  • The EU and Libya will support awareness campaigns to take place in main countries of origin of migrants transiting through North Africa and Libya specifically to alert migrants to the dangers of irregular migration.
  • Libya and the EU will work together in the implementation of the “Declaration of Tripoli on Migration and Development” of 2006, and the EU-Africa Migration, Mobility and Employment Partnership adopted in Lisbon in 2007.
  • Libya and the EU will increase dialogue and exchange information regarding the issue of smuggling of human beings and related illicit traffics reaching Libya from other countries and the EU from Libya.
  • Libya and the EU will also establish an informal consultative group that will exchange information on development policies benefitting Africa, and possibly also to identify development projects in sub Saharan Africa. This group will be composed by the Libyan administration, by the representatives of the European Commission and of the EU member States which are willing to participate.


3. Ensuring effective management of migratory flows

  • Supporting the development in Libya of a more efficient system to manage labour migration. This could be done by allowing to maximise the skills of the migrants already present in the country and of the newcomers.
  • Enhancing the capacities of Libyan authorities, Libyan NGOs and international organisations, to properly launch and implement search and rescue operations aimed at saving lives of migrants in the desert or on high seas and to provide them with the necessary humanitarian assistance.
  • Providing decent treatment, reception and assistance – in line with international standards – to irregular migrants intercepted or readmitted or to be returned by Libyan authorities, or stranded in Libya, with focus on migrants belonging to vulnerable categories (like unaccompanied minors, victims of trafficking; pregnant women, and families with small children). This could build on the activities already carried out in Libya by the local authorities, international organisations and NGOs.
  • Offering assisted voluntary return home to irregular migrants intercepted or readmitted or to be returned by Libyan authorities, or stranded in Libya or in the countries of origin, as well as offer support for their social and professional reintegration.
  • Enhancing the capacity to address smuggling and trafficking in human beings, with reference in particular to the two respective protocols of the 2000 UN Convention on the Trans-national organised Crime, and in view of reinforcing the capabilities of law enforcement officials in charge of the implementation of this legislation, by taking also into the account the Ouagadougou Action Plan to combat Trafficking in Human Beings.

4. Border management

  • Carrying out a gap-analysis on the current functioning modalities of the Libyan border and immigration services, aimed at reinforcing the capacity of the latter to prevent the irregular migration flows from entering Libya from its Southern borders.
  • Strengthening cooperation between Libya and the neighbouring and other transit and origin countries, in the border surveillance and in the prevention of attempts of irregular migrants and smugglers to violate Libyan borders, through promoting joint patrolling, intelligence sharing, the development of joint training, the facilitation of working contacts and the establishment of dedicated communication channels aimed at transmitting early warnings and sensible data.
  • Supporting the development of Libyan patrolling, search and rescue capacities in its territorial waters and at high sea. Delimiting the search and rescue region for which it Libya is responsible, pursuant to the SAR Convention it has ratified.
  • Establishment of an integrated surveillance system along the Libyan land borders, with focus on the areas prone to irregular migration flows, in line with the Memorandum of Understanding agreed between Libya and the European Commission on 23 July 2007.
  • Exploring concrete possibilities of cooperation between Libyan police, border, migration authorities and agencies and those of the EU Member States as regards the return and readmission of irregular migrants.

5. International Protection

  • Supporting Libya in its efforts aimed at establishing a protection system able to deal with asylum seekers and refugees in line with international standards and in good cooperation with the competent international organisation , in particular through providing advice on the development of a legislation in line with the 1969 African Union Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa as well as providing training, technical assistance and equipment in view of promoting the development of administrative structures and human resources, able to properly act in line with this legislation
  • Assisting Libyan authorities in screening migrants in order to identify those in need of international protection and in addressing the burden represented both by the recognized refugees and the unsuccessful asylum seekers, and which would consist in resettling some of the recognized refugees towards EU Member States, in supporting the voluntary return of some of the unsuccessful asylum seekers back to their origin country, as well as in enhancing the reception capacities offered in Libya to asylum seekers and refugees.

Click here for full European Commission Press Release.

Click here, here, and here for articles.


Filed under European Union, Libya, Mediterranean, News