Keywords: Law of the Sea; Non-entrée Policies; Rescue at Sea; Non-refoulement; European Convention on Human Rights.
The recent "non-entrée" policies of Italy and other European States, including the assistance given to Libyan authorities for conducting rescue operations and pulling people back to Libya and the closing of ports to NGOs having saved migrants at sea, have aroused considerable controversy. Italy and the EU are heavily criticised as being accomplice to human rights abuses in Libya, while an application concerning relevant issues is pending before the European Court of Human Rights. This article sheds some light on the legality of such policies from the viewpoint of international law of the sea and then addresses whether they amount to a violation of the principle of "non-refoulement". The article concludes that, although morally deplorable, the majority of these practices fall short of being in breach of the relevant rules of international law.