Italy: ECHR condemns Libya immigrant deal
24 February 2012
"Italy thrown out," headlines Il Manifesto, after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Italy guilty of violating migrants' right to protection from torture and abuse. The Strasbourg court approved a suit filed by a group of Somalis and Eritrean intercepted on a boat off the island of Lampedusa in May 2009. According to a deal signed by Silvio Berlusconi's government with then Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi, they were deported to Libya, their point of embarcation. Italy must pay them 15,000 euros each in damages.
According to the Court, the Italian "push-back" policy in operation since 2009 violates international law because it deals with migrants collectively and denies them the right to appeal in Italian courts. Roberto Maroni, the Northern League interior minister at that time, has criticised the sentence as "political", while PM Mario Monti has stated that the government will study the ruling. But Il Manifesto is sceptical –
Deals with the new Libyan government point in the same direction as those cut with Gaddafi. To change this would require a thorough legislative overhaul and a new information policy. On reading online comments about the sentence, one realizes that Europe is now seen as a threat to our national integrity. This is the product of two decades of xenophobia and institutional hostility towards immigrants.