5 July 2018
Newsletter BORDERLINE SICILIA – June 2018
- The Saga of the Aquarius and the Closure of the Italian Ports to NGO Ships
- Border Violence and the Neo-Fascist Tendency
- The Italian Government’s Responsibility for the Rise in Deaths at Sea
THE SAGA OF THE AQUARIUS AND THE CLOSURE OF THE ITALIAN PORTS TO NGO SHIPS
On June 10th the Aquarius was left blocked in the Mediterranean for three days, with 629 migrants on board who had been rescued in international waters, without receiving indications regarding a landing place. While the passengers’ conditions worsened hour by hour, the latest contention over the responsibility of indicating a port of safety unfolded: Italy’s refusal to make one of its own ports available for the migrants landing was followed by various appeals by civil society and humanitarian organisations to re-open the ports. The government’s decree, which has no juridical basis, is in contrast with the agreements that regulate the law of the sea and rescue activities, as well as with international regulations on the right to asylum.
BORDER VIOLENCE AND THE NEO-FASCIST TENDENCY
The establishment of the new government has given life to a neo-Fascist style of politics in which dissenting voices are silenced or denigrated. The verbal violence used by institutional representatives is also being shown in the guidelines for public administration staff, such as the internal directive from the National Asylum Commission, that imposes a prejudicial line in relation to Tunisian citizens, in contrast to normative principles that lay down individual access to international protection. The policy of collective rejection is also being seen in places like the Lampedusa Hotspot where, over the past few years, people have been detained for periods of time that go long beyond the established limit, on unacceptable sanitary conditions, overcrowding, without appropriate separations by age and gender, and then in many cases only to be deported from Italy. Men, women and children have been subject to violence and abuse at the hands of the police. Some Tunisian citizens have managed to take the Italian authorities to the European Court for Human Rights in relation to these abuses.
THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE RISE IN DEATHS AT SEA
The Italian government’s decision to close the ports to the NGOs, aside from contravening the norms of international and national law, makes Italy directly responsible for the rise in deaths at sea which we have already seen in the first month of the League-Five Star government. Furthermore, this merciless, blind politics of rejection is also behind paradoxical spending, such as the money used to accompany the Aquarius to the port of Valencia, while Brussels decides to triple the funds for the management of migration, translating into further militarisation and border control. The consequence of this new political line is that on June 24th the Minister of the Interior was presented with a display to demonstrate the efficiency of the Libyan Coast Guard, which cost 10 lives and 120 people missing, as denounced by the mission leader of Open Arms.
Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus
Translation by Richard Braude