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Report: Tunisia to receive intercepted migrants, process asylum claims on EU's behalf
17.2.17
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According to a report in Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, Italy is close to signing, with the support of the European Commission, a deal with Tunisia that would see the North African country agree to receive migrants of any nationality who departed from Libya by boat and were intercepted in extraterritorial waters by missions from Italy or other European states. Currently, in line with international law, people should be disembarked in the territory of the flag state of the ship that rescues them.

See: Tunisi accoglierà 200 migranti al mese partiti dalla Libia (Il Corriere della Sera, link)

With the political support of the European Commission, Italy is close to a deal that could mark a turning point in the governance of refugees.

For the first time, Tunisia agrees to receive immigrants of any nationality which left from Libya and were intercepted on extraterritorial waters by the Italian and European rescue teams.

The article refers to an agreed quota of 200 people per month - Italy had originally requested 1,000 per month.

In return (Tunisia) will get from Italy and the European Union financial support, but also further cooperation of intelligence and police forces against Islamic terrorism.

Migrants would then be entitled to leave to Italy or the rest of Europe, through "humanitarian corridors", only when their asylum request has been accepted ("accolta") .

The report further states that a similar approach will be attempted with Egypt in about a fortnight's time, when an EU delegation headed by Simon Mordue (UK) will visit.

Contacts are apparently underway with IOM, UNHCR to co-manage camps in Tunisia and guarantee decent conditions.

However, many issues remain outside, for example regarding judicial proceedings: Italy cannot deploy judges in Tunisian territory according to existing legislation and Tunisian judges cannot rule on access to asylum in an EU country.

However, the article notes, this may open up a role for EASO.

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