Agreements between Italy and Libya include measures that result in serious human rights violations. Agreements between other countries in Europe and North and West
Africa, and agreements and operations involving the EU and FRONTEX, also need to be examined in terms of their human rights impacts. However, with so little transparency surrounding migration control agreements and practices, scrutiny to date has been limited.
The desire of some European countries to prevent “irregular migration” is undermining safe and timely rescues at sea. Desperate men, women and children have been left at sea for days while countries argue about where they should be taken. Those who survive the terrifying ordeal may be returned to a country where they risk further human rights abuses and where their legitimate need for international protection is ignored. Delayed rescues have reportedly cost the lives of hundreds of people, and the full extent of the problem has not been documented.
States must be held accountable for the human rights abuses committed in the context of externalization. A lack of transparency surrounding many European countries’ border management practices and agreements with third countries means that the violations continue unchecked.
In the permissive environment created by this lack of scrutiny, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are denied any protection of their rights.
Amnesty International urges all states to protect the rights of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, according to international standards. This report has focused on Italy.
The Italian government should:
- set aside its existing migration control agreements with Libya;
- not enter into any further agreements with Libya until the latter is able to demonstrate that it respects and protects the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and has in place a satisfactory system for assessing and recognizing claims for international protection;
- ensure that all migration control agreements negotiated with Libya or any other countries are made public.
European countries and the EU should:
- ensure that their migration control policies and practices do not cause, contribute to, or benefit from human rights violations;
- ensure their migration control agreements fully respect international and European human rights and refugee law, as well as the law of the sea; include adequate safeguards to protect human rights with appropriate implementation mechanisms; and be made public;
- ensure their interception operations look to the safety of people in distress in interception and rescue operations and include measures that provide access to individualized assessment procedures, including the opportunity to claim asylum;
- ensure their search-and-rescue bodies increase their capacity and co-operation in the Mediterranean
Sea; publicly report on measures to reduce deaths at sea; and that Search and Rescue obligations are read and implemented in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of refugee and human rights law.
(Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 3 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights.
Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the universal Declaration of human rights and other international human rights standards.
We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and public donations.)