On 23 February 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court), sitting as a Grand Chamber, delivered its long-anticipated judgment in the Hirsi Jamaa and Others v Italy (Hirsi) case.1 The case was filed on 26 May 2009 by 11 Somalis and 13 Eritreans who were among the first group of 231 migrants and refugees (191 men and 40 women) that left Libya heading for the Italian coast. Halted on 6 May 2009 by three ships from the Italian Revenue Police (Guardia di Finanza) approximately 35 miles south of Lampedusa on the high seas, in the SAR zone under Maltese competence, they were summarily returned to Libya without identification and assessment of their protection claims.2
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