World

The Latest: Spanish group agrees to Italian rescue rules

The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):

2:20 p.m.

A Spanish humanitarian organization has agreed to strict Italian rules about rescuing migrants from smugglers' boats setting out from Libya.

Representatives from Proactiva Open Arms on Tuesday signed at Italy's interior ministry a "code of conduct" for such rescues, joining other NGOs which operate rescue ships in the Mediterranean just outside Libya's territorial waters.

But other rescue groups have refused, including Doctors Without Borders, objecting to such rules as allowing armed Italian authorities aboard.

Proactiva's mission head, Gerald Canals, told reporters the group's vessel on Monday was doing search-and-rescue outside Libyan waters when the Libyan coast guard ordered them to move north, "threatened us" and fired warning shots.

Separately, Italian leaders met in Rome with the U.N. special envoy to Libya who is pushing for a political solution to Libya's instability.

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1:40 p.m.

European Union countries have begun the process of sending migrants who arrived in Europe via Greece over the last five months back to have their asylum applications assessed there.

EU rules oblige migrants to apply for asylum in the country they first enter. But the rules were suspended as hundreds of thousands of people, many Syrian refugees, entered Greece in 2015.

The European Commission says a number of EU countries have made requests to Greece to return migrants but that Athens must give assurances it has adequate reception facilities for them.

Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst said Tuesday that the asylum rules were reintroduced in December but "it's not a full resumption, it's a gradual resumption."

Greece's asylum service says requests have been made to return more than 400 migrants.

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9:55 a.m.

A French activist farmer has been convicted of helping migrants illegally cross the border from Italy.

The appeal court of Aix-en-Provence, in southern France, on Tuesday gave Cedric Herrou a suspended four-month prison sentence.

Authorities said Herrou assisted some 200 migrants over the past year, housing some in his farm in the Roya valley in the Alps, near the Italian border. He also helped them travel in France, using his own vehicle.

A 2012 French law provides legal immunity to people helping migrants with "humanitarian and disinterested actions," but the prosecutor had argued Herrou was subverting the law.

Herrou told BFM television he "has no regrets" and won't stop helping migrants, calling it his citizen's duty.

Another justice investigation has been opened after he was arrested again last month.