Immigration : Deportation of Immigrants: Commission Urged to Take a Stand

European Social Policy, June 11, 2009 | Go to article overview

Immigration : Deportation of Immigrants: Commission Urged to Take a Stand


The main groups in the European Parliament, with the noteworthy exception of the EPP, expect precise answers to precise questions on Italy's recent controversial deportation of hundreds of illegal immigrants to Libya.

The controversy is raging because the Italian authorities are suspected of infringing the right of asylum. However, the European Commission has not yet given its opinion on Italy's deportation, in early May, of illegal African immigrants to Libya, with which Silvio Berlusconi's government now has a secret friendship treaty'. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) points out that Tripoli has not signed the 1951 Geneva Convention on Human Rights and lacks a functioning asylum system. The HCR has therefore asked Italy to admit the asylum applicants to its territory.

Questioned under the urgent procedure by the Socialists, Liberals, Greens and Left Radicals in the EP Committee on Civil Liberties, the Commission gave a laconic response. "My services are in the process of collecting information on these events and analysing the fundamental issues that you raise. You will of course receive a response as soon as we have completed our analysis," writes Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot in a letter dated 28 May, obtained by Europolitics Social.

To answer the MEPs, the Commission will have to go into certain details: What is the legal status of these immigrants under international and EU law? What rules apply to them? Most importantly, can a potential asylum applicant be sent back to a country that has not signed the Geneva Convention? "The principle of non-deportation is not restricted by geographical limits," observes the HCR. It adds that persons originating from Somalia and Eritrea were seeking international protection and could have asserted their right to such protection. …

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