Illegal Expulsion of 500 Migrants to Libya: The EU Must Condemn the Italian Authorities

Joint Press Release of the MIGREUROP Networks
and the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network

Solidarity Immigrant, as a member of the MIGREUROP Network, questions the Portuguese Government about its position regarding these expulsions and about what procedures it is taking, together with the other European governments and the European Commission, in order to guarantee a firm condemnation of these the expulsions carried out by the Italian authorities, and it does not fail to register its concern regarding the increase in the number of detentions of undocumented immigrants, which has also been registered in Portugal.

The Italian minister of internal administration, Roberto Maroni, when considering the expulsion to Libya of 277 immigrants, intercepted on 6 May, and 240, on 10 May, to Libya, was not mistaken. However, far from representing an advance in the fight against illegal immigration, as the Italian minister claims, this repatriation means that Italy has chosen to turn its back on democratic principles and its commitments in the field of fundamental rights.

In 2004 and 2005, Italy had already carried out massive expulsions to Libya of several hundred who had landed on the island of Lampedusa, which was condemned by the European Parliament, which expressed itself “deeply concerned about the fate of hundreds of requesters of asylum [returned to a country] that is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, does not have an asylum regime, does not offer any effective guarantee in terms of refugee rights and practices arbitrary detention and expulsion”. Four years later, the situation of refugees and migrants in Libya has not changed. Violence, ill-treatment, arrests, rapes, torture and deportations are constantly taking place in this country which has not signed the Geneva Convention on Refugees. At the beginning of May, a video presented by the Italian press showed the Libyan military, under threat of weapons, preventing migrants from launching themselves into the sea towards the island of Lampedusa. This is a sinister illustration of the “friendship treaty” concluded between Italy and Libya in the autumn of 2008.

What has changed is the role now entrusted to Libya by the European Union in the fight against illegal immigration. Reintegrated into the international community after years of exclusion due to acts of terrorism, “Libya has the potential to become a key EU partner in the Mediterranean and Africa”. These were the words of the European Commissioner responsible for internal affairs, who in February offered this country 20 million euros to help better control its borders, as part of the process of externalizing the European migration policy. In fact, in addition to the resources offered by its subsoils – gas and oil – Libya occupies a decisive place on the map of migratory routes towards Europe, and knows how to make it profitable. 20 million to allow sending thousands of women, men and children to Libyan detention camps,

The European Union has the means to avoid being an accomplice in this new phase of the war against migrants: the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and Migreurop expect a firm condemnation of these expulsions by the European Commission, contrary to European and international law, and that legal proceedings are initiated against the Italian authorities. Europe, which has signed the Charter of Fundamental Rights, must also renounce any migration agreement with countries that clearly violate human rights.

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