UNHCR rebukes Italian minister for verbal attack

May 18, 2009 19:23

The UN refugee agency publicly rebuked Italy's defense minister Monday for his "unacceptable" verbal attack against the agency and its spokeswoman over Italy's new immigration policy. Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said Saturday that the UNHCR wasn't worth anything and that its spokeswoman in Italy was either inhuman or criminal for having criticized Italy's new policy of sending back migrants to Libya without first screening them for asylum. The United Nations, the Vatican and other humanitarian and human rights group have all said the new policy violates international law and breaches the rights of refugees to request asylum. On Monday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said La Russa's "baseless personal attacks" were "unacceptable" and wouldn't interfere with the agency's mandate to protect refugee rights.

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