Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

16 February 2011

Italy urged to deal with Tunisian migrants 'emergency'

Italy urged to deal with Tunisian migrants 'emergency'

Amnesty International has urged the Italian authorities to deal with the humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers leaving Tunisia following recent unrest.

More than 5,000 migrants have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to authorities, who have described the events as a "humanitarian emergency".

However, the country's foreign ministry has suggested that Italy and other EU countries should "stop the Tunisian wave", and recently deployed more boats to patrol the country's coasts.

Amid increasing tension over the issue, on Monday night Italian border police reportedly shot at a boat carrying Egyptian migrants and asylum seekers, wounding the vessel's pilot.

"A 'humanitarian emergency' demands a humanitarian response, not a law and order one," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Europe director.

"This means that boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers from Tunisia, Egypt or other North African countries must not be pushed back. Everyone arriving is entitled to be treated with dignity, to be granted assistance and access to a fair asylum procedure."

Italian authorities have reinforced the patrolling of the coast following the wave of migration in the Mediterranean,

Large numbers of people were forced to sleep outdoors for several days before the Italian authorities reopened the reception centre on Lampedusa.

Italy routinely detains irregular migrants, and in the past has conducted mass expulsions, in violation of international law.

"Detention should only ever be a last resort, not an automatic response. No one should be sent back before they are able to make their case or explain their circumstances before the relevant authorities, and certainly there should not be any mass forced expulsions" said Nicola Duckworth. 

Frontex, the European Union's agency for external border security, has agreed to support Italy's calls for assistance in stemming the flow of migrants from North Africa.

"The main objective of any patrolling of national or international waters carried out by Italy, Tunisia or any other force, such as Frontex, should be the safety and security of those found at sea," added Nicola Duckworth.

Issue

Detention 
Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants 

Country

Italy 
Tunisia 

Region

Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter

News

24 October 2014

Equatorial Guinea’s government should reveal the names and the reasons for the arrest of all prisoners set to benefit from the country’s newly announced amnesty on... Read more »

24 October 2014

The dismissive reaction of the Dominican Republic to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ ruling on human rights abuses suffered by Dominicans of Haitian descent and... Read more »

22 October 2014

The release from prison of one of Viet Nam’s most high profile prisoners of conscience is a positive step, but authorities must now free the scores of other peaceful... Read more »

24 October 2014

The decision to authorize the extradition to Russia of Kazakhstani banker and opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov by a french Court of Appeal has set in motion a procedure... Read more »

24 October 2014

The Iranian authorities must stop the execution of a woman due to be hanged tomorrow morning after being convicted for the killing of a man whom she said tried to... Read more »