Global Migration Centre
Migration Day

Privatised push-backs of migrants to Libya

Charles Heller, Dr. Violeta Moreno-Lax, Noemi Magugliani, Dr. Gearóid Ó Cuinn, Julien Raickman, Prof. Vincent Chetail
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Auditorium A2, Maison de la paix, Geneva

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Privatised push-backs of migrants to LIbYa: New report and legal action

This event is the culmination of a collaboration between the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and Forensic Oceanography, a research project based at Goldsmiths, University of London, which will announce two ground-breaking interventions on this controversial practice. Forensic Oceanography will release its detailed reconstruction of the incident and this new pattern of practice (written by Charles Heller), and GLAN will announce the details of the unprecedented legal complaint filed on behalf of SDG, one of the individuals who was intercepted in the high seas by the Nivin and was targeted by the Libyan authorities for his role in resisting being brought back to Libya. The complaint (written by Noemi Magugliani, Itamar Mann and Violeta Moreno-Lax) aims to set a precedent by seeking accountability for human rights violations triggered by this “privatized push-back”. It seeks to show that the Mediterranean cannot continue to function as a lawless space where no legal accountability obtains.


Charles Heller is a researcher and filmmaker whose work has a long-standing focus on the politics of migration. In 2011, Heller together with Lorenzo Pezzani co-founded Forensic Oceanography, a collaborative project based at Goldsmiths, University of London that has developed innovative methodologies to document the conditions that lead to migrants’ deaths at sea. Heller is currently Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, and has drafted this report during his stay at the Institute. Heller is also co-President of the Migreurop network.

Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax is reader in Law, founder of the Immigration Law programme, and co-founder of the Centre for European and International Legal Affairs (CEILA) at Queen Mary University of London; founder and general coordinator of SAROBMED: The Search and Rescue Observatory for the Mediterranean; and legal adviser for the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN).

Noemi Magugliani is a legal researcher with the Global Legal Action Network where coordinates GLAN's work on migration and border violence. She is a doctoral candidate at the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway researching 'Adult male victims of trafficking, gendered constructions of vulnerability and access to protection in Italy and the UK'. She is also a consultant with the International Organisation for Migration on the Displacement Tracking Matrix project. Noemi previously worked with Nasc Ireland, providing legal advice in the field of immigration law; with Dartmouth College as a Teaching Assistant; and with the Municipality of Milan in the field of international development.

Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn is Director of the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) where he is responsible for the organisation’s international legal actions, development and strategic growth. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Transnational Law Institute at Kings College London, an adjunct lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights and formerly lectured at Lancaster University Law School. His academic research focuses on public international law, human rights and public health governance.

Julien Raickman was Head of mission in Libya with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) from September 2018 to September 2019. His teams carried out medical consultations onboard the Nivin during the 10-day standoff in Misrata port and advocated for an alternative that would uphold the rights of the individuals onboard the Nivin, unsuccessfully. MSF currently provide humanitarian assistance and medical care to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants upon disembarkation on Libyan shores, inside detention centres and other settings in Misrata, Bani Walid, Zliten, Khoms, Tripoli and Djebel Nafusa areas.

Vincent Chetail is Professor of International Law, Head of the International Law Department, Director of the Global Migration Centre