24 Feb 2012

Human rights ruling against Italy over migrants

7:19 am on 24 February 2012

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Italy violated the rights of Eritrean and Somali migrants by sending them back to Libya.

The 13 Eritreans and 11 Somalis were among a group of about 200 people who left Libya on three boats in 2009. Two of the 24 have since died.

The court in Strasbourg ordered Italy to pay each migrant in the case 15,000 euros ($US20,000) in damages.

In February last year Italy suspended a 2008 agreement with Libya on sending migrants back.

Tthe judgment is final, meaning it is legally binding on Italy.

The BBC reports there was a sharp increase in the number of African migrants arriving in Italy in overcrowded boats, during the Arab uprisings in the first half of last year.