• en

Albanian Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Italy’s Asylum Seeker Plan

The opposition in both countries and human rights groups have criticised the agreement.

Italy’s plan to send tens of thousands of asylum seekers to Albania for processing has been temporarily halted by the Albanian supreme court. The court has ordered a hearing next month to determine whether the agreement violates Albania’s constitution.

The deal, signed last month by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, involves Italy building two processing centres in northern Albania to handle 36,000 people annually attempting to reach Italy. However, the opposition in both countries and human rights groups have criticised the agreement.

According to the deal, 3,000 people per month who tried to reach Italy by sea would be detained in two processing centres near the north-eastern port of Shengjin. The centres, funded by the Italian government, would operate under Italian law, with Italian staff overseeing operations and having immunity from certain Albanian laws.

After assessing asylum claims, Italy would be responsible for either resettling individuals to Italy or deporting them. Albanian police would handle security outside the centres.

Two petitions from the Albanian opposition argued that the agreement would violate the asylum seekers’ protection under the constitution and international law. The top court ruled on Thursday that these appeals would be further considered in hearings, automatically suspending the ratification of the law.

The ruling has cast doubt on Italian Prime Minister Meloni’s claim that the centres would be operational by next spring. The Italian-Albanian deal has drawn comparisons with the UK’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, a scheme facing legal challenges and criticism from human rights groups. Despite the UK government sending over £240m to Rwanda, no asylum seekers have been deported from the UK to Rwanda.

Kiki Garba

Follow us on: