Libya’s Pull-Backs of Boat Migrants: Can Italy Be Held Accountable for Violations of International Law?  

by Giulia Ciliberto

In the aftermath of the migration crisis, the European Union and its member states adopted a series of policies aimed at reducing migratory pressure. A sample of these measures is the Italy-Libya Memorandum of Understanding of 2 February 2017. Under this commitment, Libya agreed to perform interception and return of boat migrants on high seas, an operation known as pull-back or push-back by proxy. Among the episodes falling within this label, the most relevant is the one which occurred on 6 November 2017, which was carried out by the Libyan Coast Guard under the coordination of the Italian authorities. Seventeen of the survivors lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that Italy had violated various provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights. The present paper examines the challenges posed by pull-backs from the standpoint of the Law of the Sea and the International Human Rights Law, as well as the issues specifically concerning the proceeding before the Strasbourg Court.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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