Italian Proposal for Migrant and Reception Centres will Cement Human Rights Crisis

June 28, 2018

Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) strongly rejects the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini’s proposal for the creation of migrant reception and identification centres on Libya’s southern borders. LFJL calls on European states to recognise that Libya is an unsafe third country and to propose solutions to the migration crisis that prioritise the safety of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

During a press conference with the deputy head of the Presidential Council Ahmed Maiteeq on 25 June 2018, Mr Salvini made the proposal for migrant, refugee and asylum seeker (collectively, migrants) reception and identification centres on Libya’s external borders. No additional details about the centres were provided. Mr Salvini stated that the proposal, with Libya’s joint support, will be tabled at the European Summit of the Heads of State and Government (the European Summit) held on 28 and 29 June 2018.

Libya is one of the few remaining United Nations member states that has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have asylum procedures in place that meet international refugee standards. The proposal, like the Memorandum of Understanding before it, ignores Libya’s record of ill-treatment towards migrants including arbitrary detention, torture, slavery and sexual exploitation.[1]The proposal would confer greater responsibility for migrants’ welfare to Libya, in spite of it lacking the resources, legal framework or infrastructure to protect such individuals. There is a high risk of further violations resulting from such a maneuver; the European Union heads of government must reject the proposal when it is presented to them.

LFJL Director Elham Saudi stated, “Italy’s proposal neither resolves the underlying issues causing the migration crisis nor offers any prospect of support for those affected by it. Instead, it is an attempt to deter migrants through encouraging their containment at Libya’s borders in conditions that place them at high risk of severe human rights violations. This policy, which encourages human rights abuses against those who attempt to cross borders, is unethical, ineffective and unlawful.”

LFJL urges all heads of government at the European Summit to reject Italy’s proposal and instead commit to a sustainable, human rights based approach to migration that places the safety, dignity and protection of migrants at its center. LFJL calls on Libya to take concrete steps to protect migrants including by establishing a non-discriminatory immigration and asylum framework and by holding perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.

[1] United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Libya and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, ‘Detained and Dehumanised’ Report on Human Rights Abuses Against Migrants (December 2016), p.1. Available at:

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