The protocol signed last November 6th in Rome by Giorgia Meloni and Edi Rama
“The Protocol between the Government of the Italian Republic and the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania for the strengthening of collaboration in migration matters” is public. Signed last November 6th in Rome by Giorgia Meloni and Edi Rama, the agreement consists of 14 articles and two annexes.
In the introduction it is underlined that “considering the interest of the parties in promoting growing bilateral cooperation in all sectors, also in the perspective of Albania’s accession to the EU, it was deemed necessary to intensify collaboration in the context of the management of migratory flows, also in consideration of the geographical proximity and the commonality of interests and aspirations between the parties, aware of the problems deriving from illicit migration, in compliance with international agreements in the field of the protection of human rights and, in particular, in the field of migration, certain of the actions to be undertaken for the prevention of illicit migratory flows and trafficking in human beings and, at the same time, to guarantee the protection of human rights”, the protocol “is aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation between the parties regarding the management of migratory flows from third countries, in compliance with international and European law”.
5-year agreement tacitly renewable for another 5 years
Article 3 states that the Albanian party recognizes the Italian party’s right to use the areas (state-owned real estate), according to the criteria established by this protocol. The areas are granted free of charge for the duration of the protocol which, as provided for in Article 13, is five years, tacitly renewed for another five, unless one of the two parties communicates, with at least six months’ notice of the expiry, its intention not to renew it.
No more than 3,000 migrants at a time
Article 4 states that “the total number of migrants present at the same time in Albanian territory in application of this Protocol cannot exceed 3,000. The structures in the designated areas are managed by the competent authorities of the Italian side according to the relevant Italian and European legislation. Disputes that may arise between the aforementioned authorities and the migrants welcomed in the aforementioned facilities are subject exclusively to Italian jurisdiction. The competent Albanian authorities allow the entry and stay in Albanian territory of migrants welcomed in the structures for the sole purpose of carrying out the border or repatriation procedures required by Italian and European legislation and for the time strictly necessary for the same. In the event that, for any reason, the right to stay in the facilities ceases, the Italian side immediately transfers the migrants out of Albanian territory. Transfers to and from the facilities themselves are the responsibility of the competent Italian authorities“.
Migrants disembarked only by Italian vehicles
Again, Article 4, paragraph 4, establishes that “the entry of migrants into territorial waters and into the territory of the Republic of Albania takes place exclusively with the means of the competent Italian authorities. Upon arrival in Albanian territory, the competent authorities of each of the parties proceed separately with the obligations required by their respective national legislation and in compliance with this Protocol”.
Albania bears the burden of security outside the structures
Article 6 provides that “the competent authorities of the Albanian side ensure the maintenance of public order and security in the external perimeter of the areas and during transfers by land, to and from the areas, which take place in Albanian territory. The competent authorities authorities of the Italian side ensure the maintenance of order and security within the areas. The competent authorities of the Albanian side may access the areas, subject to the express consent of the person in charge of the structure itself. Exceptionally, the authorities of the Albanian side may access the structures, informing the Italian manager of the same, in the event of fire or other serious and imminent danger that requires immediate intervention”.
Living costs borne by Italy
Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 establish that “the competent Italian authorities adopt the necessary measures in order to ensure the permanence of migrants within the areas, preventing their unauthorized exit into the territory of Albania, both during the completion of the procedures administrative and at the end of the same, regardless of the final outcome. In case of unauthorized exit of migrants from the areas, the Albanian authorities will bring them back to them. The costs resulting from the implementation of this paragraph are borne by the Italian party”. “The competent Italian authorities bear all costs necessary for the accommodation and treatment of the people welcomed in the facilities, including food, medical care (even in cases which require the assistance of the Albanian authorities) and any other service deemed necessary by the Italian party, undertaking to ensure that such processing respects fundamental human rights and freedoms, in accordance with international law”.
Italian personnel do not respond to the Albanian authorities
Article 7 specifies that “the working conditions of Italian staff are regulated exclusively by Italian legislation. The salaries received by Italian staff are exempt from income taxes and contributions for the provision of social assistance provided for by the relevant Albanian legislation, except in cases where the personnel are Albanian citizens resident in the Republic of Albania. For words spoken or written and for actions performed in the exercise of their duties, Italian personnel are not subject to Albanian jurisdiction even after the end of the exercise of the aforementioned functions in Albanian territory. The communications of said personnel with the competent Italian authorities are not subject to restrictions or limitations by the Albanian authorities”. Paragraph 8 specifies that “Italian personnel have the obligation to respect the laws of Albania and not to interfere in their internal affairs”.
Access to facilities granted to lawyers and international agencies
Article 9 provides that “the period of permanence of migrants in the territory of Albania in implementation of this protocol cannot be greater than the maximum detention period permitted by current Italian legislation. The Italian authorities, at the end of the procedures carried out in accordance to Italian law, ensure the removal of migrants from Albanian territory. The costs relating to these procedures are entirely borne by the Italian party in accordance with the provisions of this protocol. To ensure the right of defence, the Parties shall allow access to the facilities provided for in this Protocol to lawyers, their assistants, as well as to international organizations and EU agencies who provide advice and assistance to applicants for international protection, within the limits established by applicable Italian, European and Albanian legislation”.
Protocol can be canceled with 6 months’ notice
Article 11 establishes that “the Italian party removes all migrants from Albanian territory within the term of this protocol”, while article 13 states that “each party may, at any time, denounce this protocol, with six months’ written notice. The denunciation informs the other party of the reasons. The protocol may be denounced no earlier than one year after its entry into force”.
Finally, the two annexes: the first concerns the area intended for the creation of the structures for entry procedures and the area intended for the creation of the structures for ascertaining the prerequisites for the recognition of international protection and for the repatriation of migrants without right to enter and remain in Italian territory. The second is the regulation of reimbursements from the Italian side to the Albanian side.
The Italy-Albania protocol: the text