Albania’s top court allows Italy migrant pact

Italy's PM Meloni and Albania's PM Rama meet in Rome

TIRANA (Reuters) -Albania's top court gave the green light on Monday to a deal letting Italy build migrant processing centres on Albanian territory, a scheme that has faced criticism from opposition and rights groups.

Lawmakers from Albania's opposition Democratic Party had challenged the agreement in the court, saying it broke the constitution by transferring territory and state power to another country.

The U.N. rights chief also said last week the plan raised concerns about arbitrary detention and living conditions.

The project has drawn comparisons with the British government's plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, which has been challenged by Britain's Supreme Court. Brussels has since said that the Italian plans do not breach European Union law.

Albania's Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the deal was "in accordance with the constitution" and said it could now go on to be ratified in parliament.

Under the scheme announced in November, EU member Italy would open two camps across the Adriatic Sea in Albania, which is not an EU member.

One camp would screen migrants on arrival and a second would detain them while asylum applications are processed, officials have said.

Migrants would then either be allowed to enter Italy or repatriated, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said his country felt a duty to help Italy because of the special relationship between two countries and the way Italy received hundreds of thousands of Albanians in the 1990s after the fall of communism.

(Reporting by Florion Goga, writing by Fatos Bytyci, editing by Christina Fincher and Andrew Heavens)