Italy party files com­plaint over deal with Libyan mili­tias

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

Italy’s Rad­i­cal Party has filed a for­mal com­plaint with pros­e­cu­tors over a deal with Libyan mili­tias backed by Italy and the Libyan govern­ment to stop the flow of mi­grants to Europe.

The com­plaint, a copy of which was ob­tained on Friday by The As­so­ci­ated Press, al­leges that the deal vi­o­lates the European Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights, given that mi­grants trapped in Libya are fac­ing tor­ture or other in­hu­mane and de­grad­ing treat­ment. With­out nam­ing po­ten­tial de­fen­dants, it sug­gests that Ital­ian of­fi­cials are guilty of crim­i­nal as­so­ci­a­tion and abuse of of­fice.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported last month that Italy and the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised but weak Libyan govern­ment of Fayez Ser­raj had reached a ver­bal agree­ment in July with the two main mili­tias that con­trol Sabratha to stop the flow of mi­grants in ex­change for equip­ment, boats and money.

Ital­ian of­fi­cials, Libyan hu­man traf­fick­ers in se­cret Malta meet­ing

A few weeks ago, one of the best-known traf­fick­ing barons, whose forces con­trol half the city, be­came head of a force tack­ling clan­des­tine mi­gra­tion. This came af­ter an al­leged ‘un­der the ta­ble agree­ment’ with Ital­ian of- fi­cials at an in­for­mal meet­ing with ma­jor traf­fick­ers in July in Malta, ac­cord­ing to press re­ports emerg­ing this week.

“I raised this with the am­bas­sador and the Ital­ian In­te­rior Min­istry but they de­nied hav­ing been party to such an agree­ment. But even the traf­fick­ers them­selves talk about ‘the meet­ing’, ac­cord­ing to the city’s mayor.

The re­sults have been noticed on the other side of the Mediter­ranean where the num­ber of ar- ri­vals on the Ital­ian coast has dropped dra­mat­i­cally.

Italy has reg­is­tered 6,500 ar­rivals since mid-July, barely 15 per cent of the av­er­age for the same pe­riod be­tween 2014 and 2016.

Libyan of­fi­cials say the fall­ing num­ber is due to stronger sur­veil­lance by the coast­guards of both coun­tries, as well as pres­sure on ma­jor peo­ple-smug­gling gangs in Sabratha.

“We are giv­ing them a chance. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for traf­fick­ers to re­pent,” ac­cord­ing to Bassem Ghrabli, the com­man­der of a force tack­ling clan­des­tine mi­gra­tion.

“Since the cre­ation of this cell, we have had sup­port from the Govern­ment of Na­tional Ac­cord. Be­fore, we didn’t have the means to fight the traf­fick­ers, who were bet­ter armed,” he said. “We ex­pect [the smug­glers] to hand over to us more than 10,000 mi­grants.”

Ghrabli said 90 per cent of the city’s traf­fick­ers had agreed to stop their il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties af­ter ne­go­ti­a­tions with res­i­dents.

“We gave them an ul­ti­ma­tum: we will no longer tol­er­ate such ac­tiv­ity in the city. If they do not agree to aban­don their traf­fick­ing, we will use force,” he was quoted as say­ing, adding that sus­pected IS jihadists are still in the city and con­tinue to ben­e­fit from hu­man traf­fick­ing.

“The Euro­peans have also un­der­stood that they are un­der threat from ter­ror­ists who can in­fil­trate Europe by hid­ing among mi­grants”, Ghrabli said.

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