Italy did not take migrants back to Libya, says Salvini

'Operation coordinated by Tripoli'

31 July, 18:37

    ROME - The Italian Coast Guard was not responsible for an incident in which 108 migrants rescued at sea by the Italian Asso 28 ship and brought back to Italy, Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said Tuesday in a Facebook post.

    He added that the operation was coordinated by the Libyan Coast and so Italy could not be blamed for taking migrants back to a port that is not considered safe, and that the Italian Coast Guard had not taken part in the operation, "as falsely claimed by foreign NGOs and a poorly-informed MP from a left-wing party". The Italian Coast Guard meanwhile said that the rescue activities by the Asso 28 "were conducted under coordination by the Libyan Coast Guard, which managed the entire operation". The UNHCR said that it was gathering information on the incident to verify whether international law had been violated. The EU's Natasha Bertaud, spokesperson for the EU Commission for Migration, said that the bloc did not have enough information yet to comment in detail but that it was in contact with Italy to learn more about it. The European Commission noted that Libya cannot be considered a safe port, given widespread and serious violations of migrant rights that are regularly brought up by both national and international human rights organizations.

    Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said Tuesday on the sidelines of a Senate hearing on the case of the Asso 28 ship that international law had not been violated. He added that "the only thing that I can say is that the Italian Coast Guard was not involved in the coordination and rescue efforts, and thus it did not provide any indication." 

     

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