9 October 2015

Hotspots for Migrants, „an uncontrollable meat grinder that is soon going to be clogged.”

Lawyer Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo is analyzing the first hotspot to open on
Lampedusa on the day that EU commissioner Avramopoulos is visiting the center.
“The hotspots are a system of incarceration and deprivation of individual
liberties; they lack a legal basis and foster illegality.”

– University lecturer Fulvio Vassallo
Paleologo’s assessment of the future function of the hotspots that are supposed
to be opened in November is highly critical. The lawyer and expert for migration
patterns starts out by saying: “Until the end of November, the five planned
hotspots on Sicily should begin working. Yet, until today only one hotspot open
on Lampedusa, namely in the former CSPA* in Imbriacola street. In exactly this
center, however, there were incidents of abuse in the past, which led to Italy
being convicted by the European Court of Human Rights. Nothing has changed
about that and the prevalent conditions limit personal liberties (for example,
if someone refuses to be fingerprinted). The conditions also conflict with the
principles that were confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights as they
are merely restrictive measurements that have their legal basis only in
national law.”

“The hotspots are a disastrous decision. They will clog the immigration
system and will hurt the fundamental rights of immigrants,” Vassallo Paleologo
continues. “We are heading towards a police state that is regulated by
measurements that limit individual liberties without judicial intervention,
without freedom to communicate; there is no legal counseling, not even when faced
with collective deportations.”

“The opening of hotspots is simply the result of the European Council’s
policies that have a strong tendency toward locking people up and away,” the
scholar continues. “On the pretext that political refugees are identified and
separated from economic ones in this way, the hotspots risk to become a meat
grinder that will be clogged by unmanageable numbers of migrants. If we just
think of how much time the continuing identification cost. Right now, Italy is
asked to take on all responsibility for border control. This, however, does not
fit with the announced real European solidarity (a distribution of the burden);
the numbers allow us to make clear statements about this. The hotspots could
clog the system and will explode it soon.”

“Therefore, it is essential to monitor daily which form these hotspots
assume,” the lecturer explains. “The European Union decided to impose
procedures on Italy and Greece that are far off from the regulations and have
no clear legal basis on either European or national level. These procedures,
which were from the beginning doomed to fail, were supposed to help identify
all arriving migrants in both states by using digitalized fingerprinting. At
the same time, however, there is no guaranteed immediate and legal relocation
to a northern European country. The hotspots are promoted by claiming an
alleged improvement of asylum seekers’ living conditions. Yet, in reality, they
mainly further illegality. With being accepted to a hotspot the only thing
changing for the migrants is their legal status. In the course of 72 hours,
they would have to decide about the migrants’ relocation to a northern European
country, their relocation to another reception center, or their deportation. In
practice, this means that a travel document is handed out to them, which
commits them to leave Italy.” Vassallo affirms: “The migrants cannot stay in
the hotspot for more than 72 hours. But how are you supposed to be able to
evaluate the personal situation of an individual in this short period of time?
The system will collapse like an engine with too much petrol poured in. It is
bound to fail.”

Published by Borderline Sicilia Onlus

*CSPA – Contrada Imbriacola: First reception center in Lampedusa

Translation: Annika Schadewaldt

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