Last week an inhumane migration pact between Italy and Libya was automatically renewed for three years after the November deadline for cancellation passed.
Inhumane Memorandum of Understanding
The Memorandum of Understanding delineates the cooperation agreement between Italy and Libya, providing Libya with technical and financial assistance to “combat illegal immigration” and push migrants back to Libya where they face forced labor, torture, enslavement and extreme violence.
Humanitarian groups and NGOs have warned that by failing to cancel this pact, Italy and the EU are complicit in subjecting migrants to well documented abuses that are occurring in Libya. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court found in September 2022 that crimes against migrants in Libya “may constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes”.
While about 9,000 refugees were evacuated from Libya by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) through an emergency mechanism since 2017, the rights watchdog said the measures were “a fig leaf” that “do not absolve Italy and other EU member states from their responsibility”.
The EU has allocated 57.2 million euros ($62.8m) for integrated border and migration management in Libya since 2017. Its border agency Frontex also provides surveillance information used by Libya to intercept refugees and migrants.
Urgent calls to halt assistance to Libya
Matteo de Bellis, researcher on asylum and migration at Amnesty International, said “Italian authorities are fully aware that the tools they are providing will be instrumental to more human rights violations”. Human Rights Watch has also urgently called on Italy and the EU to immediately halt support to Libyan coastguard.
In October 2022, the Freedom United community tweeted at the Ambassador of Italy to Libya and the Ministry of the Interior, calling for the cancellation of the agreement. The memorandum is facilitating the enslavement of people in Libya and it is a disgrace that it has been allowed to be renewed.
This cooperation is trapping people in Libya, a country where they face forced labor, arbitrary detention, torture, extortion and other forms of abuse. We must keep calling out the EU for their complicity in modern slavery in Libya. Add your voice by signing the petition today!