24 September 2011

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE ILLEGALLY HELD ON SHIPS ANCHORED IN THE PORT OF PALERMO

The association, Borderline Sicilia Onlus, expresses its profound indignation at yet another violation of the law and at the total denial of many of the most basic of human rights, including the right to a defence, as well as the judicial control of personal freedom. We are currently witnessing the violations of these rights with the false detention of hundreds of Tunisian citizens on a prison ship anchored in the port of Palermo. The way in which this detention and deprivation of personal freedom is being carried out is wholly illegal. There has been no validation by the judicial authorities, and furthermore, the ship has assumed the status of a floating Immigrant Detention Centre.
This is the recent, yet the most serious, in a series of episodes which have been ongoing since the beginning of 2011. It has been a year in which the government’s management of the arrival of migrants has made explosive situations unavoidable, such as the fire in the Contrada Imbriacola Centre on 21 September and the subsequent outbursts of violence that have followed on the island.
The proclamation of a State of Emergency and the consequent urgent decree, have meant that what should be guaranteed as a fundamental right according to the Constitution and judicial system have been waived in these recent months. Furthermore, improvised structures are being used as detention centres to which the press and associations working with the migrants are denied access. Thereby putting in place a real state of exception (rather than emergency). The forced imprisonment in non places of people who have not committed any crime, recalls episodes which Europe’s history should have made sure would never be repeated. Nonetheless, they continue to occur again and again right under our eyes.
On Lampedusa, which has been used and abused by the interests of those who have very little to do with Lampedusa, nothing else has been done except to fan the flames provoking this state of exasperation and violence which has led to scenes that a civil country should be ashamed of. And the response of the institutions, when faced with the situation which they are guilty of having caused, is yet another serious suspension of rights. It is a response which can in no way be accepted.
We ask that all of the Tunisian citizens being held on the ship be immediately transferred to other structures on dry land which correspond to what is stated by law in cases of forced removal; and, that those who have been held illegally, first on Lampedusa and then on the ship for more than 96 hours be released. We ask that procedures of sudden and collective repatriation, which are in violation of the norms of domestic and international rights are brought to an end. Furthermore, we ask that all unaccompanied minors, who have been living for many months in inhumane conditions on Lampedusa, be found placements as soon as possible in suitable structures according to the procedures outlined by Italian law. This appeal also goes out to the humanitarian organisations in order that they fulfil their true role and purpose, and above all, their independence. Nobody is deluding themselves that by covering up this body of evidence, by moving the ships to inaccessible areas and by preventing all contact with the migrants, that it is possible to hide the serious responsibility that has emerged in these days.
On Sunday 25 September at 17h at the Port of Palermo (S. Lucia quay), there will be a rally against the segregation and deportation of the Tunisian migrants.

Contact: [email protected] +39 348 3363054 +39 340 9802196

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