Monday 7 March 2011

"We must defend our frontiers on a European level"

Bearing in mind that the costs of Libyan land borders and territorial waters’ patrols are jointly financed by Italy and the European Union, in the last two years hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers intercepted at sea have been driven back to Libya without any chance of setting foot on European soil to claim asylum. But in Libya, migrants and refugee are victims of discriminatory treatment of all kinds. They live in constant fear of being arrested, in which case they will be indefinitely confined in overcrowded detention centres where they are exploited, beaten, raped, and abused. Refugees who have no possibility of applying for asylum or accessing any other effective remedy, thereby run the risk of being forcibly returned to countries of origin where they may face persecution or torture. The inadequacy of Libya’s response to the flow of migrants and refugees is so infamous and well documented that it simply cannot be the case that the EU member states are only now starting to gain an insight into Libya’s doubtful track record in human rights, rule of law, and democracy.

OpenDemocracy: EU migration control: made by Gaddafi?, February 25, 2011
Under a 'Treaty of Friendship', the two countries agreed to cooperate in fighting illegal immigration. The pact allows Italy's coastguard to swiftly deport boatloads of illegal immigrants back to Libyan shores, skipping procedures for filing potential asylum applications.
Human right groups claim the agreement violates Italy's international human right obligations by dumping migrants and asylum seekers on Libya. Italy stands accused of handing over immigrants to Libya, which is not party to the United Nations Refugee Convention and has no asylum system. 

Sara Hamood; The American University in Cairo - Forced Migration Studies. African Transit Migration Through Europe: The Human Cost (January 2006).

The titular quote is from the French minister of European Affairs, Laurent Wauquiez, issued on March 2.

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