Rutvica Andrijasevic

2004-05 International Policy Fellow
Combating Organized Crime working group


Migrants commonly depart from Libya in overcrowded makeshift boats and embark on a journey which can last up to several weeks. Once in Italian waters they are intercepted by Italian border guards and transferred to the Lampedusa holding centre, where they are kept for between five and forty-five days. Numerous and consistent allegations of degrading treatment of third country nationals in detention in the holding centre, the difficulty in gaining access to the asylum and the large scale expulsions to Libya, brought Lampedusa to the attention of both European and international institutions. Despite the Italian government's denial that any human right's violations are taking place in the Lampedusa holding centre, the European parliament and the United Nation's Human Rights Committee expressed concern about the conditions in the centre.

This paper presents an overview of events and policies implemented in Lampedusa and Libya respectively, and outlines the contentions surrounding these policies. It uses material provided by the Italian authorities, European institutions and NGO's and examines the schemes developed by the Italian and Libyan Governments to control the influx of irregular migrants and asylum seekers into Italy. The paper recommends that in guiding the EU's partnership with its neighbour states in the field of asylum, borders and immigration transparency, accountability, and legitimacy are key principles.