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Italy faces lawsuit for agreement with Libya to pull back migrants

17 Nigerian survivors of a 2017 migrant boat sinking have filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights accusing Italy of violating their human rights by “subcontracting” their rescue to Libya.

The case, backed by legal and human rights organizations, poses a direct challenge to Italy’s much-touted 2017 deal with Libya that has greatly reduced the number of asylum-seekers reaching Europe.

Those backing the case told a press conference Tuesday that the policy, which involved using EU funds to train and equip the Libyan coast guard to patrol its coasts and bring migrants back, had subjected would-be refugees to slavery, torture and other degrading and inhuman treatment once back in Libya.

They argue that Italy was responsible for the abuses because it maintained “effective control” over the Libyan rescuers via its own coast guard coordination center in Rome and an Italian Navy vessel docked off Tripoli that coordinates rescues locally.

And they said Italy was liable for the abuses because the violent conditions of Libyan detention centers where the migrants were held after their return were well-known and well-documented.

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