Migrants disembark from the Diciotti in the port of Catania, Italy. Credit: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO
Migrants disembark from the Diciotti in the port of Catania, Italy. Credit: ANSA/ORIETTA SCARDINO

An association of Italian jurists has said that the migrants who reached Italy aboard the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti cannot be forced to move to Albania as the country is not part of the European Union and the European asylum system.

Migrants who have reached Italy aboard the Diciotti can't be transferred to Albania - a country that is not part of the European Union and whose legislation on international protection does not abide by the European asylum system - against their will, according to the Italian Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (Asgi). 

The association said that no national or international law would allow such a move and therefore migrants can only be transferred if they choose to do so, addressing the issue of the reallocation of the migrants held for 10 days on the coast guard ship. 

The Italian Bishops' Conference CEI agreed to take in about 100 of the migrants while Albania and Ireland took 20 each to end a stand-off after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini kept them aboard saying they would not land until the EU agreed to take them. 

Rights and protection for asylum seekers 

Asgi said that migrants taken in by CEI will remain on national territory and will become part of the public protection system if they apply for asylum, like any other applicant. Minors will be hosted by communities for underage migrants and will have the right to join family members in EU countries, according to the association of jurists. The legislation, said Asgi, ''proves that the government's choice to use any migrant arrival as a weapon to put pressure on the EU (even at the risk of committing a very serious crime) is, along with illegitimate and irresponsible, also useless in relation to the objectives that the government means to pursue''. 

An Agrigento prosecutor has placed Salvini under investigation for allegedly kidnapping the migrants on board, who were allegedly unlawfully held for five days at sea and another five days at Catania harbor. Asgi continued saying that the ''only way to jointly manage arrivals is to reform the Dublin regulation'', a measure that ''lies in the European Parliament, especially due to the opposition of those same countries with whom the interior minister and the whole government would now like to join forces''. 

Four alleged Diciotti smugglers detained 

Italian police arrested four suspected migrant smugglers, three Egyptians and a Bangladeshi national, who were allegedly in charge of the boat rescued by the Diciotti. They are charged with criminal association to smuggle people, favor illegal immigration, sexual violence and organizing the illegal entry of migrants. 

Meanwhile, 143 migrants who disembarked from the Diciotti are being hosted at a hotspot in Messina and are waiting to learn where they will be transferred. They said they endured violence and abuse while they were traveling to reach Libya and at detention centers in the North African country. Many bore the signs of abuse, including 11 Eritrean women who were allegedly raped in Libya, officials said.

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