Saturday, 4/4/2020 | 5:04 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Written question – Preventing human beings from being smuggled across the Mediterranean with the assistance of NGOs – P-004661/2017

In 2017, nearly 100 000 people have illegally entered Italy from Libya by sea. The majority of them embarked from ports in Libya on unseaworthy boats, from which they expected to be rescued and taken to the Italian mainland. NGOs have been playing an increasingly central role in rescue operations at sea. NGOs’ practice of rescuing illegal immigrants in many cases actually inside Libya’s territorial waters has particularly been noted. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, Frontex, NGOs’ actions have clearly started to act as an incentive for illegal migrants to seek to reach EU territory. The Italian authorities have recently launched an investigation into cooperation between NGOs and people smugglers. NGOs are suspected, inter alia, of having paid fees to smugglers to transport illegal immigrants.

The largest groups of nationals arriving in Italy illegally across the Mediterranean are from Guinea, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Côte d’Ivoire. A clear majority of the migrants arriving do not require international protection but are seeking to migrate for economic reasons. Despite that, it has not proved possible to return the majority of the illegal migrants who have entered Italy illegally to their countries of origin.

Combating trafficking in human beings supported by NGOs should be a key measure in order to prevent illegal immigration across the Mediterranean. In that case, the EU Member States would provide support to the Italian judicial authorities in their inquiries concerning the links between NGOs and gangs of people smugglers. In addition, Italy and other EU Member States should deny entry to their ports to NGOs’ ships seeking to transport illegal immigrants to the Union.

Does the Council have the capacity to decide on assistance to Italy by the authorities in order to clarify the facts regarding NGOs’ cooperation with human traffickers, and to decide that NGOs should be denied the right to use their vessels to transport illegal immigrants to ports in Italy or other EU countries?