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2 February 2020 Italy and Libya renew their bilateral migration deal

On 2 February, Italy and Libya renewed their Memorandum of Understanding on migration management in the Central Mediterranean and extended for three years. Despite calls from human rights groups, such as Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International, to revoke the deal, and despite Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi di Maio’s promises to improve it “with special attention to migrant centres and conditions”, the deal was renewed with no amendments. The accord, in its original wording, provides that Italy trains, equips and supports the Libyan Coast Guard in the interception of people at sea to return them to detention centres in Libya. There, migrants and asylum seekers face significant human rights violations, which include abuse, rape and torture. Besides, conditions in Libya have deteriorated due to the escalation of the ongoing conflict, to the point that UNHCR “is suspending its operational work at the Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF), fearing for the safety and protection of people at the facility, its staff and partners”. Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, declared “I regret that the Italian authorities have not scrapped that agreement or – as a minimum – changed its terms”. Further, she urged Italy to interrupt its activities in support of the Libyan Coast Guard.