Libya does not respect the human rights of migrants – Graffiti
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Human rights Moviment Graffitti has said that it receives with great concern the news that the Italian Government reached an agreement with Libya in which there will now be ‘joint patrol’ in Libyan territorial waters. Although it is not yet completely clear what such an agreement contains, it is probable that migrants intercepted by the six Italian Navy vessels will be sent automatically back to Libya.
Moviment Graffitti said, “to send migrants back to Libya would be an action that goes in contravention to various human rights. Article 14 of the Fundamental Human Rights Convention states that ‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’. However Libya has not signed the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, and therefore it does not have any type of structure through which asylum claims can be examined. In practice this means that no migrant can ask for protection in Libya. Hundreds of immigrants that need protection are being sent to their countries, such as Somalia and Eritrea, where they face unjust imprisonment, torture and in some cases even murder, from dictatorial governments or armed militias.”
“One must also say that around 50% of the migrants that reached Malta by sea have been recognized as needing protection. If all these migrants were sent back to Libya before they reached Malta, there would have been a great probability of being deported to their home-country, where there is a threat to their lives.”
Moviment Graffitti continued, “Apart from the fact that Libya does not offer protection to persons seeking asylum, migrants in Libya also face continuous abuse, even from Libyan police and soldiers. Various reports, such as those from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and State Watch* shed light on the way thousands of migrants considered as ‘irregular’ are being arbitrarily arrested in Libya. During their imprisionment they faced brutal methods of torture, which in various cases lead to the death of the person.”
Moviment Graffitti reminds that the 1974 International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea states that persons saved at sea have to be disembarked in a country which is considered to be ‘safe’ for them. Of course, this is not the case of Libya in regards to migrants. Therefore the agreement reached with Libya will surely not ‘save hundreds of lives’, as the Italian Minister for Home Affairs affirmed. Neither will it curb criminal organistionas that traffic human lives. As we can see from past experiences a strong military control at borders means only that these criminal organisations will find new routes, often longer and more dangerous, and because of which there will be a higher rate of mortality at sea. The only solution to the problem of irregular migration (apart from improved conditions in the home-countries from which immigrants leave) is that large European countries start again to open their doors to forms of legal migration from Africa.
For these reasons Moviment Graffitti makes a strong appeal to the Maltese Government and to the Opposition to desist from showing that they wish that Malta reaches an agreement with Libya, because this will put in danger thousands of lives. Both the Nationalist Party and the Malta Labour Party stated their commitment to human rights. Therefore before such an explicit breach of fundamental human rights they are obliged not to show support to forms of agreement which include automatic repatriation to Libya.