Albanian Court Temporarily Blocks Asylum Seeker Plan with Italy
In a recent development, the Albanian constitutional court has put a temporary halt to a contentious plan between Italy and Albania. The plan aimed to transfer asylum seekers from Italy to Albania for processing but has faced significant opposition from rights groups and both countries’ opposition parties.
The court’s decision comes after it ordered a hearing to be held next month to determine whether the agreement violates Albania’s constitution. Under the deal, Italy would construct two processing centers in northern Albania, with the capacity to handle 36,000 asylum seekers annually who attempt to reach Italy.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama had signed the agreement just last month. However, the opposition in both countries and rights groups have condemned the plan, criticizing its potential violation of international law and denying asylum seekers proper legal protections.
The deal would involve detaining and processing 3,000 individuals every month who have tried to reach Italy by sea. These processing centers would operate under Italian law and be staffed by Italian personnel, while Albania would solely provide security.
Two petitions filed by the Albanian opposition claim that the agreement undermines the constitutional and international protections of asylum seekers. Acknowledging the validity of these concerns, the top court ruled that the appeals should be considered in further hearings. Consequently, this decision has suspended the ratification of the law, casting doubt over Prime Minister Meloni’s claim that the centers would be operational by next spring.
This Italian-Albanian agreement has drawn comparisons to the United Kingdom’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. Both initiatives have faced widespread criticism from human rights groups and are encountering legal challenges.
While the court’s decision to temporarily block the plan offers a reprieve for now, the upcoming hearing will determine the fate of the agreement. The outcome will have significant implications for both countries’ asylum policies and their compliance with international obligations regarding the treatment of refugees.
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