ASGI statement: Italy and Europe must react immediately to stop the tragedy of the deaths in the Mediterranean

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Inactivity makes them accomplices of a slaughter

Yesterday we heard the news of the umpteenth tragedy that occurred in the Mediterranean Sea, in which 400 migrants coming from Libya are believed to have drowned. These deaths must be added to the 23,000 people who are estimated to have lost their lives while crossing the Mediterranean from the year 2000 to date, with 3,419 deaths recorded just in 2014.

These are very high figures, which represent veritable massacres involving thousands of people whose only fault is that of leaving their country to flee from war, serious human rights violations, hunger, droughts and natural disasters.
It is of scant importance that the responsibility lies, first of all, with the traffickers who profit at the migrants' expense, because as much responsibility must be sought in the mistaken policies or indifference of the European States, whose normative frameworks are based on respect for human rights, among which the main one is the right to life.

The high number of deaths that we are made to record - by now, in the midst of general indifference, as news that we are used to, because it does not concern "our" dead - bears witness to the fact that Europe and Italy are acting in ways that are hardly effective or efficient (in spite of the number, which is not insignificant, of people who have been rescued at sea), more concerned by the fear of an onslaught than to guarantee survival and asylum to people who are asking for protection and asylum.

According to data from Frontex (the European agency for management of operative cooperation at the European Union Member States' external borders), in 2014, 280,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe, which, in a European population of 507 million people, means an impact of 0.05%.

Hence, these are figures that are clearly acceptable for European societies (if we accept that this criterion is relevant to respect for human rights) and hence, they cannot justify any timidity or inactivity when facing the tragedy that we are witnessing, not to talk of the vile instrumentalisation that a certain type of Italian politics is enacting in relation to this phenomenon.

Of course, it is not easy to find lasting solutions and, for this purpose, a wide participation in migration policies by the associations which protect migrants and asylum seekers throughout Europe is needed.

Yet, at present, some solutions can already be identified:

- Europe and Italy should immediately resume European initiatives similar to Italy's so-called "Mare Nostrum" operation in 2013 and 2014, primarily for the purpose of search and rescue in international waters rather than, as is the case for the Triton operation that is underway, for the principal purpose of controlling Europe's borders;

- Europe should immediately set up an effective resettlement plan for refugees who are trapped in transit countries, involving all the countries in the Union, and envisaging quotas per country and uniform criteria for the enactment of resettlement programmes;

- the European Commission should immediately embark upon a process to move beyond the framework of the Dublin III Regulation, replacing it with new instruments to share the burden between the Union's various States, recognising the deep ineffectiveness and unfairness of the aforementioned Regulation, which has not enabled the regulation of asylum in Europe at all, but rather, it has entailed very high social and economic costs;

- the EU institutions should immediately instruct all the European countries to issue entry visas for humanitarian purposes towards EU countries, implementing what is already envisaged in the Schengen borders code and speeding up the route towards the preparation and adoption of new provisions that may serve to tackle the dramatic present scenarios;

- without hesitation, Europe must assume a political initiative involving the democratic countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean as well as associations that support migrants and asylum seekers, to identify medium and long-term solutions to oppose forced migration and provide greater protection to asylum seekers.

A failure to immediately adopt the measures listed above would entail a serious responsibility on Europe's part as, by forgetting its founding values, it remains objectively indifferent to the tragedies that are taking place at our borders.

Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione

[translation by Statewatch]

"L'Italia e l'Europa reagiscano subito per fermare la tragedia dei morti nel mar Mediterraneo." The original statement by ASGI (in Italian)

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