Donnerstag, 31. Mai 2012

Newsletter Migrantsicily - May 2012

  • Possibilities still "open" on the question of migrants on Lampedusa
  • Boats begin arriving again in Pozzallo (Rg)
  • Update on the situation at Cassibile
  • The situation at the Vulpitta CIE (Immigrant Detention Centre), Trapani
  • Escape attempts and high tension at the Milo CIE: journalists and police rebel
  • Decree published extending North African permits on humanitarian grounds
  • Observatory on the violation of the right to a defence: good new
  • Tunisian delegation in Italy: update on the missing relatives
In April we spoke out against the illegal detention of 24 Somalis who had been held for weeks in a hotel on Lampedusa. They arrive after having miraculously survived yet another shipwreck in the Sicily Canal.
On the 7th May, 17 Tunisians who had been intercepted by the carabinieri 10 miles off the coast joined the asylum seekers already present on the island.
The Cala Creta residence has been empty since mid May. The Sub- Saharan migrants have been sent to various reception centres for those seeking international protection, in Sicily and Calabria. The Tunisians have been sent to the hangar in the port of Pozzallo where they await repatriation.
The night of the 23rd May saw the 5 remaining Tunisians on Lampedusa board a boat which transported them to Italy to rejoin their co-nationals at Pozzallo. Whilst the Tunisians were boarding, it was necessary to transfer them back on to the quay as the boat began to sink. Was this a sadistic goodbye present from the authorities? Or maybe it is a question of public utility- a sign that it is necessary to have buildings and residences ready for the new "goods" which are sure to arrive.
Within the next few hours, the Minister of the Interior is expected to give the go ahead for a series of consultations firstly to discuss the possibility of revoking the measures which Maroni used in order to declare Lampedusa an "unsafe port" in September 2011 and secondly, to renew the responsibilities of the organisation Praesidium.
These two points, in particular the second- which will also depend on the evaluation of the poor results in the past few years of the migrant system in Italy, which has been condemned on more than one occasion by the European Community for the violation perpetrated by the way in which the influx of migrants has been managed- could lead to the system of aid, reception, placement and treatment of migrants being redesigned for the whole region.
After the flop of the 2011-2012 management on behalf of the Civil Protection, the most salient point to resolve appears to be that of funding.
Lampedusa, as a Centre is anyhow officially ready to be reopened. The date, nonetheless, is yet to be fixed.

The 28th May saw the arrival of the first boat to reach the Ragusan coast. 76 people arrived, yet they spoke of a further four who had not survived the journey. Deaths in the Mediterranean and the practice of mass repatriations continue to occur. As do arrests for the illegal trafficking of migrants, made on the basis of swiftly carried out investigations which leave room for many doubts.
The asylum seekers and minors are being housed in a local sports centre while they wait to be placed in reception centres.
The Tunisians who have arrived over the past few weeks, have been transferred to the hangar in a Ragusan port whilst awaiting their repatriation. None of the government accredited organisations (OIM, CRI, Acnur, Save the Children) have been granted access to the structure, except for the Italian Red Cross who are distributing basic essentials and medicines on behalf of the Civil Protection.
The Praesidium project expires in June. This will allow the Minister for the Interior to start up discussions again on the role of the various organisations who, over the years, guarantee (or at least should guarantee) that procedures of access to international protection and the departure from Italian soil, as well as access to fundamental rights are all respected. If on the one hand, their presence has, on more than one occasion, led to the avoidance of resounding violations of human rights; on the other hand, it has rather conveniently maintained a facade for the Italian government, which has attempted to cover up the illegitimate standards adopted in Sicily's migrant centres.   

As in other years, hundreds of migrants arrive in Cassibile at this time of year in search of work. Those who are hired, find that they are exploited, underpaid, recruited by "bosses", housed in abandoned structures or have to sleep directly in the fields surrounded by the earth they spend the day working on. These are the same conditions which are also found on the other stages of the so-called seasonal work circuit. Caporalato- the way in which the "bosses" operate the hiring of workers and the working conditions offered, has, since September 2011, become a penal offence. Yet this has nonetheless done little to decrease the phenomenon. One of the main reasons behind this, is the lack of protection for anyone reporting the crime. And, like every year, the authorities intervene only to allocate funds for the preparation of a huge campsite. The campsite is run by the Red Cross, yet in order to have access to it, migrants must be in possession of a permit of stay.
Cassibile has also been at the centre of further immigrant related scandals in recent years. One case is that of the CARA (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) run by the association Alma Mater which has since closed.
Even though the trial is still on going, it is understood that one of the partners of the Oasi consortium (which, with a greatly reduced offer, has been granted the management contracts for CIEs (Immigration Detention Centres) in Modena and Bologna) is the former vice president of Alma Mater.

On May 11th 2012, the politician Alessandra Siragusa (Democratic Party) visited the CIE (Immigrant Detention Centre) Serraino Vulpitta in Trapani together with Laura Verduci from the Palermo AntiRaacist Forum and the freelance journalist Alessio Genovese. In their report, Verduci and Genovese speak out against the inhumane conditions within the structure. Nearly all of the rooms have glass missing from the windows. The migrants complain about the cold and the mosquitoes. Hygiene conditions are dire and the toilets don't work. The Director says there are currently 41 migrants at the Centre, yet the visitors say there are over 50 there (the Centre has 43 places). A group of Egyptians are living in a separate room waiting to be repatriated. Nearly all of the migrants there have either been transferred from other CIEs in Italy or come directly from prisons. Some of them are suffering from health problems, many are suffering from depression and there are often cases of self-harming and attempted suicide.
On the 23rd April, some representatives from the LasciateCIEntrare campaign organised a rally in front of Vulpitta. There were able to communicate from a distance with the migrants being held inside: "How many of you are there? -More than 60 people, eight to a room -But lawyers come to see you?- Yes, yes there are lawyers, yes, but... -How long have you been here? -6 months, 8 months, 8½ months  -Is there anyone here who was sent from Milo? - Yes, he spent 6 months there and now 2 months here. We've arrived here from Turin, Milan, Bari- they've brought people here from all over Italy.  -Have you had the validation of the judge? -We've never seen a judge...Journalists, can I say something? For more than a week now, there has been a spate of attempted hangings and incidents of self- harm: one guy opened his stomach, another slit his wrists...People are dying, dying. They don't help us...they offer no kind of help at all. We are dying of hunger, dying of depression because we have been here for 6 months, 8 months closed inside without being given any kind of information.
Lawyers never come because they stay with the management...they never call to see us, nothing works. We can write all these things down- I'll be the first to sign, to put my name down.

Since the 27th May around 100 detainees have managed to eascape from the Milo CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) in Trapani
It would seem that those who have remained inside have also taken the punishment on behalf of those who escaped.
The police trade unions have also raised a voice of indignation towards the inhumane working conditions of the Trapani centre.
We would also like to report on one of the more salient passages of SIULP Palermo press release: "And so there is only one possible solution- one which has already been repeatedly requested- to increase the amount of staff employed at the Milo CIE, because making a structure, whose purpose is to work towards the identification and expulsion of irregular immigrants, just "survive" can only be a waste of energy, people and resources, not to mention the issue of the lack of security."
First hand information about the conditions in which the migrants live, or should I say "survive", in the Milo centre comes from journalists from the TMNews agency and from a delegation of a further twenty journalists, who have been able to gain access to the CIE over the last couple of days

A month away from the expiry of permits for humanitarian reasons issued under the DCPM (Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri- First Minister's Decree) of 5th April 2011 (, the government has finally enacted a decree that establishes a further 6 month extension. Furthermore, an official notice from the Minister of the Interior clarifies that the permits will be renewed automatically. The police headquarters are nonetheless responsible for renewing the permit if so required, at the relevant Immigration Office.
The decree:
The notice:
It is still necessary, however, to address the issue of the refugees who arrived in Italy in 2011 from Lybia. It has been demanded that the majority of them be issued with a permit on humanitarian grounds. The Commission has nonetheless issued numerous rejections for international protection, which is condemning thousands of people to lives as irregular immigrants.

In the March newsletter, we highlighted the decision taken by the Catania Bar Council which suspended all access to legal aid for asylum seekers. The Catania Bar Council  presented queries about the suitability of the documents necessary in such proceedings to the President of the Court
Maintaining that the measure was clearly not legal, two members of the Sicilian section of ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione- Association for the Judicial Studies on Immigration) appealed against the decision to the Catania TAR (Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale- Regional Administrative Tribune).
A few days after the appeal, the Bar Council, even though it continued to defend its legitmacy, enacted a decision which revoked the measure. It is therefore hoped that this outcome will lead the Bar Council to re-evaluate the case for legal aid for asylum seekers paid for by the State, and that through the examination of the legitimacy of each individual case and with the possibility for each asylum seeker to refer directly to the relevant Court of Appeal, access of the right to a defence for migrant asylum seekers will therefore be re-established.

In January, members of a delegation arrived in Palermo from Tunisia looking for members of their families who were missing, who they maintained had disappeared after having arrived in Sicily. The families of the missing Tunisians carried out months of protests in front of the Tunisian Consulate in Palermo. They then met with an official from the Agrigento Immigration Office and visited some of the Centres for migrants in Sicily. Following on from this, they then went to Rome, where they spoke with officials from the Tunisian Embassy and the Minister of the Interior. Napolitano, himself, also personally received them and said to one of the mothers, "Madam, don't cry".
The delegation believe that nothing has come from their request to the Italian government to cross- check the fingerprints of their missing family members. Representatives of the "2511" committee (set up to deal with this case) went to Tunisia to hold talks with the Minister of the Interior. "In the meantime," the committee states, "last week we also spent a few days in Tunisia and met with the mothers and the families (...) and sought to speak with the authorities, from whom we have received conflicting information: the cross examination of the fingerprints has been completed and the results are negative; 60% of the cross examination has been carried out and the results will be communicated all together on its completion; negative results have already been communicated." Given that the Tunisian family members who are currently still in Italy have not received any test results (which should have examined the fingerprints of those missing with the database of migrants who arrived in Sicily in 2011), the "2511" committee has publicly declared that it will hold a press conference where it will demand an official communication of the results and call for an investigation into the whole affair