On 24 August 2016 Italian police carried out the deportation of 48 Sudanese nationals from the border crossing of Ventimiglia to Khartoum. The Sudanese citizens were trying to cross into France as it was their intention to reach northern European countries. It is unclear if they were informed of the possibility to apply for asylum in Italy before the deportation took place, states ECRE member CIR (Italian Council for Refugees). However, if they were not provided with such information, this deportation would constitute an extremely grave violation of their rights, including the right to apply for international protection, continues the organisation.

This deportation is the first to take place under a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two countries on 3 August 2016, with the aim of enhancing cooperation between Italy and Sudan on fighting crime and managing borders and migration, including stemming irregular migration. According to the Italian embassy in Sudan, this agreement is “another brick in the Italo-Sudanese tower of friendship.” Furthermore, the agreement belongs to a series of measures taken or to be taken in the framework of cooperation between the Horn of Africa states and the European Union on migration – the Khartoum process – followed up by the EU Emergency Trust Fund launched at the Valletta Summit in November 2015.

In 2015, the recognition rate for humanitarian protection of Sudanese citizens in Italy was at 60%. Dario Belluccio, lawyer with ECRE member ASGI, told to the ECRE Weekly Bulletin that the practice amounted in effect to a collective expulsion, in violation of international and European law. In addition, repatriation of foreign nationals to a country where they may be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment is in violation of art 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and article 19 of the Italian law on Immigration. Sudan’s president Omar al Bashir has an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court since 2009 with ten counts of crimes, including crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

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