ASGI - Catania press statement, 27.10.2010
Press Release: ASGI asks for the rights of the migrants and refugees who landed in Catania to be respected
ASGI expresses deep concern over the development of events concerning the management by the law enforcement agencies of the arrival of 128 foreigners, several of whom are minors, on 26 October at around 12 o'clock on the coast near Catania. The way in which the intervention took place when the fishing boat laden with migrants was blocked at sea and the use of force in this context remain unclear.
It appears that all the foreigners have been placed in police custody and are held in a makeshift structure in a sports hall that is located in the outskirts of Catania.
The nationalities and composition of the group of migrants are not yet known but, as stated in the declarations by coronel Minuto, commander of the naval-aviation group of the Guardia di Finanza [customs and excise police, which has military status] in Messina, the migrants "have claimed that they are Palestinians in order to be able to apply for asylum", although, the coronel added, "we are convinced that they are Egyptians".
So far, access to the structure in which the migrants are held and where ongoing police questioning is taking place has been consistently denied to representatives of UNHCR, Save the Children and the IOM. In this way, the bodies responsible for protection, which have agreements with the interior ministry, are being prevented from exercising their role of informing and providing assistance to the migrants, asylum seekers and minors.
ASGI deems this behaviour serious and unacceptable, because access cannot be denied to UNHCR under any circumstance, either at the border or in the territory, even if the foreigners were in a condition of detention, in order for the mentioned United Nations agency to be able to exercise the function entrusted to it, of monitoring the presence of potential asylum seekers and to inform the people concerned about access to asylum procedures, without it being conditioned or limited.
Likewise, ASGI recalls the duty of the Italian State in the field of the protection of minors, who must be able to enjoy the assistance of qualified bodies at all times and in any circumstance, including the delicate phases of arrival and identification, under the control of the minors' judicial authority.
ASGI has cause to fear that the purpose of the Italian authorities' "forceful" behaviour may be to enact an operation for the migrants' collective expulsion in the shortest possible time, with summary identifications, and preventing the migrants from being able to enjoy adequate assistance and from submitting asylum applications if they ask to do so. ASGI strongly calls upon the Italian government to fulfil its responsibilities and asks for the protection bodies to be immediately granted access to the structure.
ASGI - Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione
[unofficial translation by Statewatch]
The original, "ASGI chiede il rispetto dei diritti dei migranti e dei rifugiati sbarcati a Catania" (in Italian), 27.10.2010
Information about the case from ARCI (in Italian, including interior ministry data on recent expulsions), "Sbarco di migranti in Sicilia. Calpestato il diritto alla trasparenza delle associazioni nei luoghi di detenzione", 27.10.2010 and in:
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