Human Rights Concerns related the Italy-Albania migrants Agreement

The Italy-Albania agreement announced on 6 November 2023 and followed by the approval of Albanian parliament and Italian Senate, raises significant human rights concerns, as outlined by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović and several other international organisations. Key issues include potential violations of the rights to life, physical integrity, liberty, and specific care needs of individuals in distress at sea. The agreement was endorsed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen but widely criticized by human rights groups. 

This agreement, is part of Meloni’s efforts to share the work of addressing migration with other European countries and touted by the Italian government as a means to curb irregular sea crossings, has come under scrutiny for potential human rights violations. It may jeopardize the rights to life and physical integrity by imposing unnecessary delays in disembarkation, violating international standards on search and rescue. The predetermined transfer to Albania distorts search and rescue practices, potentially endangering lives, and impeding response times in the central Mediterranean. The lack of clarity on procedures for identifying and separating individuals for transfer to Italy or Albania poses risks to vulnerable groups, such as children and pregnant women. 

Concerns are raised regarding the availability of necessary personnel and equipment for conducting examinations on board rescue vessels. The agreement mandates automatic detention for all individuals transferred to Albania, including asylum seekers, potentially exceeding 18 months. The risk of prolonged and arbitrary detention conflicts with international human rights law, emphasizing the need for individualized assessments. The agreement may breach Italy’s obligations under international and EU law, by calling to redirect resources towards enhancing asylum procedures and reception conditions is emphasized. 

Overall, the Italy-Albania agreement raises significant legal and human rights concerns, necessitating careful examination and reconsideration by Italian authorities. The potential ramifications on search and rescue operations, vulnerable groups, and the right to liberty underscore the need for compliance with international and EU legal obligations.