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Italian Ship Returns Migrants to Libya for the First Time Since 2009

Rescued by an Italian ship some 60 nautical miles from Libya, 108 migrants were sent back to a port in Tripoli. A decision hailed by the Italian interior minister, but violates international law, according to NGOs.

On July 30, the Asso Ventotto , a commercial vesselItalian, rescued 108 migrants about 60 nautical miles north-west of Tripoli, in international waters. Contrary to the practice of recent years, where the Italian coastguard co – ordinated the operations and the migrants were brought to Italy, the Asso Ventotto this time brought them back to Tripoli.

According to the daily La Repubblica , the crew of the Italian supply vessel contacted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which directed them to the Libyan Maritime Command Center. This is the one who instructed them to bring the migrants to the port of Tripoli.

A decision that, according to Italian NGOs and politicians, could violate international law. “Libya is not a safe harbor and this can lead to a violation of international law,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), adding that it was still collecting information about this case.


“This is a collective repression,” denounced Nicola Fratoianni, a left-wing Italian deputy currently on board a Spanish NGO ship. “It is a violation of international law that people rescued at sea must be brought to a” safe harbor “. Despite what the Italian government says, Libyan ports can not be considered as such, “he said on Twitter.

In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Rome after an Italian military ship brought migrants back to Libya from Muammar Gaddafi three years earlier, in 2009.

A decision welcomed by Matteo Salvini

The Italian Minister of the Interior and head of the League, Matteo Salvini, has firmly denied that his country has contravened international law. “The Italian Coast Guard has neither coordinated nor participated in this operation, as the wrongly declared NGO and leftist misinformed,” he replied in a message on Facebook.

“In recent hours, the Libyan coastguards have rescued and brought back 611 migrants to Libya,” he said. “NGOs protest and traffickers lose business? That’s good, we continue, “he added repeating his slogan:” Closed Ports, Open Hearts. “

Italy’s interior minister, who has been in office since June 1, said in July he wants to reduce to zero the number of migrants arriving on Italian shores. It has therefore decided to prohibit access of Italian ports to NGOs providing assistance to migrants in the Mediterranean and intends to extend this ban to ships of international missions in the Mediterranean.

On July 14, after the Aquarius and Lifeline , a new boat with 450 migrants on board was the subject of negotiations between the countries of southern Europe, including Malta and Italy . The wooden boat from Libya was discovered on July 13 at dawn in international waters, specifically in the Maltese intervention zone. The ships were able to dock in Sicily during the weekend of 14 and 15 July after the commitment made by France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Malta to each host about fifty survivors.


Written by How Africa

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