Italy: The ECHR asks for information on Lampedusa deportations
On 6 April 2005, the third section of the European Court of Human Rights requested information from the Italian government after admitting a complaint filed by the lawyers Alessandra Ballerini and Antonio Lana in relation to the mass deportation of migrants from the island of Lampedusa to Lybia last March. The information that is sought from the Italian authorities in relation to this case concerns the identification and expulsion procedures that were followed, and whether there were any asylum seekers among the migrants who were expelled using a fast-track procedure. In an interview following the decision, Ballerini argued that "it is undoubtedly important that the European Court has understood that there's something wrong with this procedure", adding that over a thousand migrants were denied access to a lawyer and others before which they may have filed asylum claims, there was no judicial hearing to validate the expulsion orders, and that MPs and others including herself had to wait "the whole night before being allowed into the centre" where the migrants were temporarily held in Lampedusa. Ballerini also referred back to the fate of the migrants who suffered mass deportations from Lampedusa in October 2004, claiming that "official figures talk of 106 deaths while they were crossing the Sahara".
A further development has seen the announcement by Blue Panorama Airlines, which had been involved in deportation flights in the past, to stop making its planes available for repatriations after it was the object of a campaign, and of a demonstration held in front of its offices in the framework of the European day of action for freedom of movement and universal rights on 1 and 2 April 2005 as a result of these activities. A meeting between the protestors and company officials resulted in a commitment by the airline not to run this kind of flight again in the future.
For further information see: http://www.meltingpot.org Sources: Il manifesto 6.4, 7.4.2005; press statement by ESC, Action, ASTRA (the groups that carried out the protest against Blue Panorama), 5.4.20005, available on: http://www.meltingpot.org/articolo5133.html ; interview with Alessandra Ballerini, 7.4.2005, available on: http://www.meltingpot.org/articolo5157.html . See also: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2005/mar/11italy-boat-people.htm
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