Amnesty International on Monday called on Italian lawmakers to reject a deal that would establish centers under Italian jurisdiction in Albania to detain migrants rescued at sea by Italian ships, calling the deal “unworkable, harmful and unlawful.”
The Italian government signed an agreement with Albania to build two reception centers for migrants in November. In a press statement, Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni stated that the centers would hold 3,000 people at a time. The stated objectives of the agreement are “to fight human trafficking, to prevent illegal migration flows and to only take in those who truly have the right to international protection.” Prime Minister Meloni claimed that the centers would be operational by next spring.
However, the Albanian constitutional court has cast doubt on this statement, temporarily suspending the ratification of the protocol pending hearings on the proposed agreement. The Albanian opposition lawmakers who challenged the law argue that the deal was improperly approved and ceded Albanian sovereignty to Italy.
Amnesty International echoed similar sentiments, expressing concern for the human rights implications of the deal. While Meloni states that the centers will be under Italian jurisdiction, Amnesty says that it may prove difficult for migrants in Albania to access legal aid in Italy to challenge their detention. The rights organization also said that the automatic detention of migrants would be arbitrary and would violate EU law. Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the “right to liberty and security of the person” and prohibits detention except in accordance with its provisions.
The Council of Europe also described the emerging European trend of externalizing asylum procedures as “worrying“. They argued that such systems are plagued by legal uncertainty.
Despite the criticism, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen lauded the agreement and stated that it is in line with EU obligations.