Seven years ago, in 2012, fourteen Somalian and Eritrean nationals proved that Italy had violated the European Convention on Human Rights with its practice of intercepting migrants on the Mediterranean and bringing them to Libya where they risk torture, degrading treatment and death. The case brought attention to Italy’s “clandestine immigration” policies and bilateral agreements with the Gadaffi government. It also set an important precedent.
This week, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch submitted a joint third-party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The intervention relates to S.S. and others v Italy (no. 21660/18), a recent case that raises issues surrounding Italy’s role in the fate of migrants who are stopped in the Mediterranean, returned and indefinitely detained in Libya.
Earlier this month, Italy was urged by some NGOs in the international community to forego the renewal of its anti-migrant agreement after stories revealed ties between human traffickers and the Libyan Coast Guard.
In the intervention, HRW and Amnesty International argue that Italy, “plays a decisive role” in Libyan Coast Guard operations, and is partly responsible for enabling human rights abuses of migrants in Libya to take place.
In its press release, HRW said Italy and the EU, remain “fully aware” of the Libyan situation and have not done enough to stop these “horrific abuses.” They denounced the funding of border policies to hold people without, “conditioning this support on measures to prevent serious human rights violations, such as closing the detention centres and releasing thousands of people unlawfully detained.”
The migrant situation in Libya is dire, with 3,400 people trapped in detention centres according to the most recent United Nations report prepared by Special Envoy Ghassan Salamé.
And what UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres thinks about it? We asked today. Watch below, from minutes 12:47