Rome

No push-backs to Libya, Minniti tells Council of Europe (4)

Only training and logistic support from Italian ships - minister

No push-backs to Libya, Minniti tells Council of Europe (4)

Rome, October 11 - Interior Minister Marco Minniti said Wednesday that Italy was not involved in pushing back asylum seekers to Libya after the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks asked for clarification about Rome's agreement with the North African country. "Neither Italian ships nor those that collaborate with the Italian Coast Guard have ever taken rescued migrants back to Libya," he said. "The activities of the Italian authorities are aimed at (providing) training, equipment and logistical support to the Libyan Coast Guard, not push-back activities". Muiznieks said Wednesday that he had written to Minniti asking for clarification about the agreement, which has contributed to a big reduction in the number of migrants arriving in Italy from North Africa in recent months. "I would be grateful if you could clarify what kind of support operations your government expects to provide to the Libyan authorities in Libyan territorial waters and what safeguards Italy has put in place to ensure that people intercepted or rescued by Italian vessels in Libyan territorial waters do not subsequently face a situation contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention (on Human Rights)," Muiznieks wrote. He said this regards the "real risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". Minniti went on to say that "respect for human rights is crucial for Italy" and Rome had a "strategy" to reduce the risks of people drowning in shipwrecks.

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