• Al Jazeera

Captain of Italian Ship Receives Jail Time for Turning Away Libyan Refugees

October 22, 2021

[Image Source:File: Taha Jawashi/AFP via Getty Images]

Cited article by Al Jazeera


HRRC's Response:


An Italian ship captain has been sentenced to one year in jail for turning 101 Libyan refugees over to the Libyan coast guard from which they were fleeing. The Captain, Giuseppe Sotgiu, was found guilty of violating international law by returning refugees to a country in which they faced significant risk. This is the first case like this to be heard in Italian courts.


While this is a step towards ensuring coast guard patrols abide by international law, holding an individual accountable brings into question the authority of the governing state. There still are issues concerning how to hold the Libyan coast guard and EU states accountable for mishandling refugees fleeing harmful environments. This is critical because the Libyan coast guard has received financing and training by both Italy and other EU states.


HRRC supports refugee rights and the enforcement of international laws. However, in order to ensure international laws are being upheld, states must be willing to enforce these laws widely instead of holding trial for individuals for specific actions that may be commonly practiced.