Italy party files complaint over deal with Libyan militias
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.