Ongoing and concluded PhDs

PhD researcher or student information


Contact email:

Discipline: Law

Degrees BA: International Law and Diplomacy


International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law

PhD Research Information

Interception and Arbitrary Detention of Transit Migrants in Libya and Turkey: A Critical Analysis of the Responsibility of the EU and its Member States.

Brief description:

In contemporary Europe, questions over how to monitor and deter the mobility of migrants as well as how to regulate the border regime across the continent have become some of the most contested and debated topics in recent time. My research focuses on migration resistances across the Eastern and Central Mediterranean, which involves border control pacts with transit nations to enforce pushbacks, interception of transit migrants and their detention. The EU entered a readmission arrangement with Turkey under the 2016 EU-Turkey deal, to strictly control its land and maritime boundaries and readmit transit migrants attempting to depart to Europe. Likewise, the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya created a border control mechanism across the Central Mediterranean. The MOU aims to intercept migrants en route to Italy and secure their return to Libya. In exchange, Turkey and Libya receive financial support for border control, development aids, equipment, training for border officers, and political benefits.

My PhD is primarily concerned with how the EU and its member states could be held responsible for the arbitrary detention of transit migrants in Italy and Libya. To achieve this my thesis seeks to answer the following research questions:
1) How do international laws influence the interdiction of transit migrants on the Mediterranean Sea?
2a) Do the bilateral agreements between Italy and Libya, EU and Turkey on migration control create legal obligations for EU and Italy?
2b) Does the bi-lateral agreements create an avenue for the human rights of transit migrants to be violated on the Mediterranean Sea and in detention centres in Libya and Turkey?
3) Are the detention conditions of transit migrants in Libya and Turkey following international law and international human rights norms?
4) Can Italy, Greece or the European Union be held responsible for the human rights violations against transit migrants in Libya and Turkey?
5)What mechanisms are employable to ensure that Italy, Greece, Libya, and Turkey comply with international law obligations while enacting immigration control policies?


The methodology that my research adopts to answer the above questions is doctrinal legal analysis. The doctrinal legal analysis provides insight into how the law evolved and developed. It also helps to discover the ambiguities and inconsistencies in the law. My thesis will primarily use the doctrinal research method to inquire into the law on state responsibility for the arbitrary detention of transit migrants in Libya and Turkey under the migration control agreements with the EU and its member states. The research will focus on the arbitrary detention of transit migrants in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean after establishing the EU-Turkey deal 2016 and the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya.

Keywords: Immigration Detention, state responsibility

Language(s) of writing: English

Country: United Kingdom

Home University:

The Open University


Faculty of Law and Business

Supervisor: Neil Graffin
Start date: 01-10-2020
PhD current status: PhD Ongoing
PhD research funded by: The Open University
Name of grant:
Added to catalogue on: 22-06-2022

Additional information: