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Top official defends Italy's record on migrants

28 novembre 2017 | 19.51
LETTURA: 2 minuti

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A top Italian interior ministry official on Tuesday accused Amnesty International of telling lies about his country's treatment of migrants, saying it had never tortured them or turned back asylum-seekers in the Mediterranean.

During a heated exchange with Italian Euro MP Barbara Spinelli at the European Parliament's civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, Mario Morcone said it was "untrue" that Italian police had used electric batons against migrants held in Italian identification hotspots.

"What Amnesty says is untrue, Right Hon. Spinelli. Perhaps they (Amnesty and its supporters) have seen a James Bond or Rambo movie," said Morcone, who is interior minister Marco Minniti's chief of staff.

"Frankly these (electric batons) are not issued to Italian police," Morcone stated.

Morcone challenged Amnesty to produce "one shred of evidence" to back up their claims.

He also denied Amnesty's allegations Italy had connived with Libya's coastguard and navy in turning back migrants in the Mediterranean.

"Italy has never turned back anyone in the Strait of Sicily," Morcone claimed.

The only migrants sent back to Africa by Italy are those who are deported as they are not asylum-seekers he said.

Ahead of ahead of a key summit between the European Union and the African Union (AU) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire Amnesty on Tuesday accused EU countries, "Italy in particular" of complicity in Libya's well documented abuse of migrants.

“EU migration policy has increasingly prioritised preventing refugees and migrants from reaching Europe, in the full knowledge that doing so is facilitating the abuse of hundreds of thousands of women, men and children who are trapped en route,” Amnesty stated.

“By funding, equipping and instructing Libyan authorities responsible for serious human rights violations against refugees and migrants, EU countries, and Italy in particular, have become complicit in their abuse."

Italy's prime minister Paolo Gentiloni is among leaders from the EU's 28 member states who are attending the Abidjan summit on Wednesday and Thursday. Counterparts from 56 African nations are also due to take part in the summit discussions on ties between the EU and Africa.

Top EU officials including EU Commission president Jean-Claude Junker and the bloc's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will also attend the two-day summit.

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