Moroccan G8 protestor expelled from Italy - and after protests allowed back
Reggane Bouchaib, the 31-year-old Moroccan expelled on 9 January 2002 in relation to his arrest on resisting a public officer in Genoa during the G8 summit in July, had his expulsion suspended on 7 February. He was allowed back into Italy to testify before magistrates investigating allegations of police brutality against detainees in the prison complex set up in Bolzaneto during the summit. During his time in Morocco he filed an appeal against his expulsion, and Genoa prosecuting magistrate Parentini has now accepted his request for the expulsion order issued against him to be suspended. The final hearing, in which he hopes that the expulsion order will be overturned, will take place on 20 February. The suspension of the expulsion order against Bouchaib followed a vocal campaign in which supporters stressed that he had been living and working legally in Italy since 1996 and that he was being expelled for "exercising his democratic right to demonstrate". The campaign was also taken up at the national demonstration against the centre-right government's proposed amendments to the Italian immigration law, which was attended by 150,000 people in Rome on 19 January. On his return from Morocco, Bouchaib has alleged that he was ill-treated by police officers who escorted him onto the aeroplane which brought him from Milan to Morocco.
Source: Senzaconfine press statement 7.2.2002; for further information contact: Radio Onda D'Urto, Brescia, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Reggane Bouchaib, a 31-year-old Moroccan legally resident in Italy since 1996, was expelled from the country on 9 January because of his arrest on 21 July in Genoa during the G8 summit for "resisting a public official" - he was released three days later and went about his normal life. He secured a work contract for an indefinite period with a firm in Brescia in 1999. What he did not know was that the Genoa police chief had issued an expulsion order against him, but Bouchaib was not informed of this fact and thus could not appeal against it.
On 9 January Bouchaib was expelled after going to a police station in Brescia, where he lives, to renew his residence permit and was told that the Genoa police chief had ordered his immediate expulsion from Italy in July, in connection with events in Genoa. He was taken to Milan and flown to Morocco from Malpensa airport without being allowed to contact a lawyer or pick up his personal belongings, and was only allowed a single phone call. Thus he was denied the right to appeal before being deported (as was the case for numerous foreigners expelled during and after the G8 summit).
Bouchaib had been arrested in Genoa by the Guardia di Finanza (customs police) and spoke about his experiences to the Rome daily, Il manifesto. He was held in the Bolzaneto barracks which were turned into a temporary prison for detained protestors and were the focus of many of the allegations of torture. He said "They pointed a gun at my temple to make me sign a false testimony. They beat me, I'm covered in blood". Although charged with "resisting a public official", he was released three days later.
Italy's immigration law allows the expulsion of "foreigners suspected of offending public safety and tranquility ... even if their documents are valid". Nonetheless, before being forcibly expelled, people legally residing in Italy have the right to be told that an expulsion order has been issued against them and given fifteen days to leave the country (unless the expulsion is for reasons of "public order or security of the State"). Any appeal must be filed within five days, or a month if the foreigner is immediately expelled and has to appeal from abroad.
Bouchaib is appealing via the Italian consulate facilities in Casablanca, in a case which will be a precursor of the situation which the amendments to the Italian immigration law proposed by the Berlusconi government are set to introduce, whereby immigrants are immediately expelled and have to appeal through Italian diplomatic facilities.
Manlio Vicini, one of the lawyers working on his appeal, claims that despite logistical problems and the difficulty of filing the appeal in Casablanca, where there are long queues outside the Italian consulate (500 persons on the first day when Bouchaib went to the consulate), he is confident that the appeal will be filed before the prescribed limit. Luisa Morgantini, an Italian MEP who saw Bouchaib in Casablanca, wrote a letter to the Italian consulate in the hope of speeding up the process, although these problems are indicative of the difficulties which filing appeals from abroad entails for non-EU immigrants who are expelled.
An appeal calling for Bouchaib's return to Italy and criticising his expulsion "for exercising his democratic right to demonstrate against the G8" has been signed by member of numerous organisations that took part in the anti-G8 demonstrations as well as members of the Green and PRC (communist) parties. The appeal also stresses that he is a "precious witness ... in the investigation which is taking place into events in Genoa".
According to the Genova legal forum, an association of lawyers acting on behalf of Genoa protestors, 87 foreigners (mainly EU citizens) appealed against the expulsion orders issued against them during and after the G8 summit - only 2 of these expulsion orders were confirmed as valid by judges in Genoa. The appeals were filed from abroad - most expulsions were immediately carried out with accompaniment to the border. At the time, Italy suspended the Schengen agreement on free movement and refused entry to over 2,000 persons, sometimes acting on information from foreign police services, and on other occasions arbitrarily, as was the case for many Greeks who were not allowed to disembark in Ancona after making their way to Italy by boat (see Statewatch volume 11 no 3/4).
The proposed Bossi-Fini amendment of the Italian immigration law (see Statewatch volume 11 no 6), which is currently before parliament, would make it compulsory for all expulsions to be immediately enforced, regardless of whether it is likely that the person receiving the expulsion order may abscond. This would make it impossible for immigrants to collect their belongings or possibly even their savings, causing far more discomfort and practical problems than the mere fact of an expulsion which may curtail a life and career in Italy pieced together with many sacrifices. It would effectively place even the best integrated immigrants in a permanent state of precariousness, whereby any offence, or even political activity places them in immediate danger. Bouchaib has been active in the immigrant groups struggling for rights and against the proposed Bossi-Fini amendments in Brescia (particularly the Coordinamento degli Immigrati in Lotta), which campaigned vigorously for residence permits under the previous government. A demonstration against the amendments to the immgration law in Bescia on 24 November was attended by between 20-25,000 people, and a larger national demonstration is planned in Rome on 19 January.
Sources: Il manifesto 10.1.02, 12.1.02, 15.1.02, Appello: Genova - Brescia - Casablanca ... e ritorno! per il rientro immediato di Bouchaib in Italia, 14.1.02; D. Lgs. 25.7.1998, n.286 (Turco-Napolitano law on immigration); Ddl. Cdm. 14.9.2001 (proposed Bossi-Fini amendment). For further information contact: Radio Onda d'Urto, Brescia, e-mail: email@example.com
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