Barbara Spinelli MEP writes to the President [of the Council of Ministers], Renzi: an independent inquiry into ill-treatment in hotspots is necessary

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MEP Barbara Spinelli hast sent a letter to Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - and in copy to the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and to the Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano, asking to know the truth about the ill-treatment in Italian hotspots reported in the Amnesty International report published on the 3 November 2016.

This is the text of the letter:

Dear Presidente of the Council [of Ministers],

I am addressing you with regards to the Amnesty International report which gathers coherent testimonies which are in agreement concerning arbitrary arrests, intimidation and an excessive use of force on migrants and refugees in the hotspots and reception centres in Rome, Palermo, Agrigento, Catania, Lampedusa, Taranto, Bari, Agrigento, Genoa, Ventimiglia and Como - for the purpose of forcing men, women and even children to have their fingerprints taken. The reports talks of beatings, blows administered using electric batons, sexual humiliations and pain inflicted using pliers on genital organs.

Although the report certifies that most police officers conduct their work impeccably, the testimonies which were collected confirm the repeated complaints about cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, or even torture, enacted in identification centres, hotspots and police headquarters, placing them within a systemic framework. Such complaints are also starting to be collected by NGOs in other member states in which the migrants and refugees who have managed to leave Italy are arriving.

"In its pursuit of a '100% identification rate', the hotspot approach has pushed Italian authorities to the limits, and over, of what is permissible under international human rights law", the report's conclusions state. I am aware that this approach has increased rather than reduced the pressure on the Union's border states. Just like I am conscious of the efforts made by the Italian coastguard in search and rescue operations concerning migrants and refugees who are at risk of shipwrecks. 

The fact remains that the one hundred and seventy-four testimonies gathered by Amnesty International are not a collection of "stupidities" and "falsehoods" put together in London, as the head of the Viminale's [seat of the interior ministry] Department for Civil Liberties and Immigration has stated. They represent a very serious alarm bell which concerns us all in Italy. 

Although the introduction of the criminal offence of torture continues to be inexplicably postponed, Italy ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1988. This is why we expect you to promptly ascertain the responsibilities which exist for this situation through independent investigations.

Awaiting your kind reply and thanking you in advance, I send you my warmest greetings 

Barbara Spinelli, 
Member of the European Parliament

Translation by Statewatch

The original version of the letter (in Italian) Rapporto di Amnesty International: la verità sui maltrattamenti negli hotspot italiani, 7.11.2016

See also: 

AI: Hotspot Italy report (pdf) and 

Statewatch Viewpoint: In support of the Amnesty International report: Other stories of violence in the hotspot system

Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents

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