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FACTDROP: ‘Inhuman’ to return immigrants to Libya


‘Inhuman’ to return immigrants to Libya

Πηγή: Times of Malta
Dec 1 2011

Two Somalis win €10,000 each from the government in landmark case.

They survived beatings, torture and being left in the Libyan desert for two weeks without food or water as others died around them.
The way the case was handled by the Maltese authorities was tantamount to inhuman and degrading treatment

Now, two Somali men have been awarded €10,000 each by a Maltese court for a violation of their human rights when they were forcibly sent back to Libya, a country known to practise torture.

The way they were dealt with by the Maltese authorities was tantamount to inhuman and degrading treatment, the court ruled in a landmark judgment.

The decision was handed down by Mr Justice Raymond Pace following a constitutional application filed by Abdul Hakim Hassan Abdulle and Kasin Ibrahim Nur against the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs and the Principal Immigration Officer.

The court heard that Mr Nur had left Somalia in 2003 after losing all his family in the war, and made it across the desert to Libya.

Mr Abdulle’s own nightmarish bid for freedom started a year later when he left Somalia to escape the persecution of his Madigan tribe by militant Islamists.

After first traversing the Sahara desert into Libya he attempted to cross the Mediterranean on a boat with 30 other persons. They did not get far. The boat sank and his son drowned but Mr Abdulle managed to swim back to the Libyan coast.

He was not one to give up easily. In September 2004, he boarded another boat headed for Europe and one of the migrants on board was Mr Nur.

Their boat was intercepted by a Maltese patrol craft and they were brought to Malta, taken to police headquarters and given an immigration number. Neither of them, however, was given the opportunity to apply for asylum in Malta nor were they assisted by an interpreter, the court heard.

Twenty days later, the two men, together with four other illegal immigrants, were taken, handcuffed, to the airport and put on a plane to Libya against their wishes.

Both men asked to speak to a representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Malta but their request was refused.

Back in Libya they were arrested, beaten, tortured and kept in prison for a week. They were transferred to another prison and, three months later, they were tried without an interpreter. The two were found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for a year. During their time in prison they were again beaten and tortured.

In November 2005, the two men, together with a few of their compatriots, were taken on a three-day drive into the Sahara where they were abandoned with no food or water.

The rest of their company died in the desert but after 14 days Mr Abdulle and Mr Nur were rescued by Berber bedouins.

Tenaciously, they made their way back to Libya and, six months later, in June 2006, they returned to Malta.

In their constitutional application, they claimed that their right to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment had been violated when they were forcibly repatriated to a country known to practise torture.

They further claimed that their fundamental human right to an effective remedy had been violated because the authorities in Malta had not allowed them to apply for asylum.

Mr Justice Pace pointed out that, in terms of law, an immigrant into Malta had to be informed of his right to seek asylum in a language he understood. This had not been done in their case.

He said it was “very worrying” that the two men had been given no explanation by the authorities and had been detained at police headquarters rather than being taken to a detention centre.

The court added that the two men were not alleging that they had been subjected to torture in Malta. Their application was based upon the fact that they had been forcibly repatriated to Libya against their wishes. Libya was known to be a country that lacked the rule of law and where torture was practised, Mr Justice Pace said.

A state was to be found guilty of inhuman and degrading treatment if it extradited a person to a country where he faced a real risk of being subjected to torture.

United Nations documentation at the time stated that asylum seekers and immigrants faced xenophobic acts of violence in Libya. Asylum seekers in Libya did not benefit from the international protection afforded by the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, which Libya had not ratified.

Reports also stated that hundreds of African migrant workers in Libya had been subjected to racial violence and killings.

The court, therefore, found that Mr Abdulle’s and Mr Nur’s fundamental human rights had been violated and awarded them €10,000 each by way of compensation.

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