When in 2017 Rome tightened a Memorandum of Understanding with Tripoli on the thorny issue of migrants, the international community immediately pointed the finger at the content of a pact that was considered “inhuman” and “cynical”.
Today, after two years and with some good results, some politicians in the current Italian coalition have started to lament the “radically and profoundly changed” collaboration that does not take into account the conditions of the “Libyan detention centers, where torture is practiced and there is no respect for human rights”.
Laura Boldrini, is one of them. She is an Italian politician and former United Nations official, who served as President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy. Previously she served as Spokesperson to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for Southern Europe.
The migration crisis continues, while Italy, crushed by the sense of guilt, pushes to modify its agreement with Libya, but it turns out that one of the countries that had pointed the finger at Rome is behaving just like the Italian government.
The rumor was reported by The Sunday Times of Malta and concerns Malta itself. The island, tired of the influx of migrants, is said to have negotiated a deal with Libya in great secrecy. And the content is clear: the armed forces of Malta can coordinate with the Libyan coast guard to intercept the migrants who left Libya and headed for the island.
The fate of the migrants currently heading for Malta, is a return to where they started in Libya. The agreement, which has been called “mutual cooperation” was reached between the Armed Force of Malta (AFM) and the Libyan coast guard, with the government official Neville Gafa acting as intermediary.
Gafa, the daily continues, is one of the key men behind the agreement. In the past he received numerous allegations of corruption linked to the issuance of medical visas to Libyan citizens and was accused of presenting himself as “special envoy of the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat” during the summits that took place with the Libyan government.
He has also been denounced for having met a leader of the Libyan militia who managed the extortion of migrants inside a private detention center, the same center where sympathizers and officials of the old Libyan regime were held.
According to the reconstruction of the facts, during one of these meetings, namely the one held last June 18, Gafa had allegedly taken part in important talks with the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister, Ahmed Maiteeq,
Also according to the Sunday Times of Malta, the talks between Gafa, the Libyans and the Maltese army had even started a year earlier. In any case, an anonymous source of the Maltese government explained to the newspaper how the secret agreement works between Malta and Libya.
“We were able to reach an understanding with the Libyans. When there is a ship heading towards our waters the AFM coordinates with the Libyan coast guard. The latter collects them and brings them back to Libya before they enter our waters and become our responsibility. If this agreement had not existed, we would have been overwhelmed by migrants.”
Malta has meanwhile tried to distance itself by saying that bilateral meetings with Libya take place regularly, and that the island always acts “in compliance with international laws and conventions”.
In Italy, so-called “progressive” magistrates have been forcing the government to set a more lenient immigration agenda. In fact the progressives have determined the new course of the Interior Ministry run by Minister Luciana Lamorgese and reopened the ports to NGOs.
And the policies suggested to the government on the immigration front, noted Eugenio Albamonte, public prosecutor: “Overcome the closed port policy, restore the residence permit for humanitarian reasons and allow the registration of asylum seekers, reactivate the SPRAR [Sistema di protezione per richiedenti asilo e rifugiatireception] system”.
Albamonte added: “We need to interrupt the overlap of the theme of immigration, which is a social issue, with that of criminal politics and security. A counter narrative must be made about this, because there is no migration emergency and there is no crime related to migrants.”
In short, the magistrates are determined to dismantle Matteo Salvini’s security decrees and to reverse the course wanted by Salvini.