Dunja Mijatovic asks to suspend co-operation activities with the Libyan Coast Guard that result in the return of persons intercepted at sea to Libya
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Luigi Di Maio, published on February 21, 2020 in Strasbourg, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović urges the Italian government to introduce human rights safeguards in the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya.
While noting that discussions to improve human rights compliance in the future are ongoing, the Commissioner calls on Italy to acknowledge the realities currently prevailing on the ground in Libya and to suspend co-operation activities with the Libyan Coast Guard that result in the return of persons intercepted at sea to Libya.
In this context, Commissioner Mijatović draws the attention of the government to key safeguards to be introduced in any migration co-operation with third countries to effectively guarantee respect for human rights. Referring to her Recommendation ‘Lives saved. Rights protected. Bridging the protection gap for refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean’ (Recommendation in Italian), she underlines the need to assess the risks to the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers of any migration co-operation activities, to develop strategies to mitigate those risks, to devise independent monitoring mechanisms, and to establish an effective system of redress.
The Commissioner also stresses in the letter that she will continue to call for more solidarity from Council of Europe member states with those countries which, like Italy, are on the frontline of migration movements to Europe, and for better co-operation to ensure the effective preservation of life and the protection of the human rights of those at sea, including through responsibility sharing for adequate rescue capacity and the timely disembarkation of those rescued.
The Italian government replied diplomatically that the Memorandum has given good results, as can be seen in the reduction in the number of deaths. Furthermore, the government is confident of the outcome of the ongoing negotiations with Libya. ASP