Responding to news that the Italian parliament has voted in favour of deploying warships in Libyan waters to support the Libyan coastguard in the interception and return of refugees and migrants to Libya, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director Gauri Van Gulik said:
“The Italian authorities have shown today that they consider it more important to keep refugees and migrants away from their shores than to protect their lives and welfare. Facilitating the interception and return of refugees and migrants to Libya results in their arbitrary detention in centres where they are at almost certain risk torture, rape and even of being killed, and today’s vote could make the Italian authorities complicit in these horrors.”
“Italy, along with other EU member states, should be focusing on increasing its search and rescue operations. Instead it has chosen to shirk its responsibilities and endanger the very people it says it is trying to help, including by providing military cover and support to the Libyan coastguard, whose reckless and abusive conduct against refugees and migrants during interceptions has been repeatedly documented, including by Amnesty International. Italy has also, with EU backing, put ties on the ability of NGOs to rescue people at sea, demonstrating just how misguided its whole approach is.
“This is not the answer to the humanitarian crisis in the central Mediterranean – it is a recipe for more suffering. Any cooperation with the Libyan authorities should prioritize monitoring and accountability for any human rights violations they have committed. It should also be conditional on verifiable commitments by the Libyan authorities to improve conditions for refugees and migrants in Libya.”