On 28 September 2017, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Nils Muižnieks, sent to the Minister of Interior of Italy, Mr. Marco Minniti, a letter in which he requested information about the Italian maritime operations in the Lybian territorial waters, based on the agreements intended to support Lybian authorities in managing migration flows. The Commissioner has underlined the importance of respecting Article 3 of the ECHR, also in light of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case Hirsi Jamaa vs. Italy (2012). Recalling the ruling of the Court, the Commissioner stressed that the problems deriving from the management of a large migratory flow do not allows derogation from respecting the state obligations under Article 3 of the ECHR. He further observed that the Court’s findings concerning refoulement actions to Libya in international waters are also relevant to the operations conducted in Libyan territorial waters, given that migrants continue to be exposed to the risk of torture and inhuman treatment in Libya. The Commissioner therefore asked the Italian government to clarify the kind of operations to be carried out, and what checks have been made by Italy to protect migrants from treatment possibly contrary to Article 3 of the ECHR.
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, Grand Chamber, 23 February 2012, Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy; Reply of the Minister of Interior to the Commissioner’s letter regarding maritime operations in Libyan territorial waters, (CommDH/GovRep(2017)15), 12 October 2017