PRO ASYL welcomes the statement by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to suspend negotiations with Libya about a so called framework agreement, which would include a closer cooperation in the deflection of refugees. “It is a late insight that dirty deals with Gaddafi are impossible. Forcing on these negotiations since 2008 already constituted a scandalous neglect of human rights”, says Karl Kopp, director of European Affairs with PRO ASYL. Gaddafi was literally armed by Italy and the EU in order to fight refugees.
PRO ASYL demands a renunciation of deflection policies in the run up to the meeting of EU Ministers of Interior. Instead it is now necessary to act for refugee protection and human rights.
PRO ASYL is concerned that Frontex units were involved in the violation of human rights during the ongoing employment of the EU border agency. The mission is lead by Italy, a country that prevents the arrival of refugees no matter the cost. The Berlusconi government has violated the European Convention on Human Rights in thousands of cases, pursuing its push-back policy to Libya. The EU has to guarantee that rejection and redirection of boat people stops. Human rights do apply at the EU border, before the border and in the territorial waters of third countries as well. Boat people have a right to humane reception in a safe European harbor and to an asylum procedure in accordance with the rule of law.
The EU has to provide the neighboring states with every possible support, also in connection to the arrival of refugees from Libya. Refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and other persecuting states that have stranded in the Libyan transit, will also attempt to flee. Even before the excessive use of force by the regime against the opposition, these transit refugees were fair game in Libya. A comprehensive support for the neighboring countries in financial and logistical terms is the precondition to open up escape routes.
In spite of a low number of boat arrivals in Italy, the Interior Ministers of the EU have to prepare a humane reception of boat people in Europe guided by solidarity. In case of an increased movement from Libya or other Northern African states, an EU wide distribution of new arrivals – under consideration of humanitarian criteria – should be carried out. Europe does have the necessary legal instruments to ensure such a reception guided by the principle of “double voluntariness”.