Italy-Libya: Vessels ready for anti-illegal immigrant patrols

Rome, 2 Oct. (AKI) - Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said that six patrol-boats are 'ready' to begin monitoring the Mediterranean sea in order to prevent illegal immigrants from reaching the Italian coast.

The remarks follow a deal struck with Libya in September to increase border security and prevent illegal immigrants from reaching Italy.

"I had said I hoped for the implementation of the agreement. I have also said that I want to be present the day the patrols begin," said Maroni in an interview with Italian weekly L'Espresso.

From Libya "depart 20 percent of illegal immigrants. We are no longer masters of our borders, only the aerial ones," said Maroni.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Libya in late August and agreed to pay 5 billion dollars in reparations for its 32-year occupation of the country more than 50 years ago.

Part of the money is destined for increased border security to stop illegal immigrants crossing from Africa to Europe, but particularly to Italy, which has the longest coastline of any European Union country at 4,500 kilometres.

Maroni had previously said that he intended to travel to Libya on one of the patrol boats that Rome promised to deploy in Libyan waters to work jointly with the Libyan navy to stop illegal immigration.

He claims Libya has not done enough to curb the flow of illegal immigrants to Italy.

Also on Thursday, Italian rights group Nessuno Tocchi Caino claims that human rights have been violated in Italian-funded temporary reception centres in Libya, where illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe are kept.

"We hope that Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini....clarifies the condition in which immigrants in the temporary reception centres in Libya are kept," says NTC.

"It was not journalists or human rights organisations that confirmed the abuses, but high ranking officials of Italy's secret services, such as the former director of the SISDE, Mario Mori,"

The organisation claims that Mori in 2005 said that in Libya, illegal immigrants are 'caught like dogs', and put into small pick-up trucks and taken to reception centres where the keepers have to cover their mouth with a tissue due to the vile smell.


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