Our Constitution Buried In Depths of the Mediterranean

According to data gathered over the last month, nearly one thousand people have been killed by the political choices of Europe and Italy. People murdered by the choice to close the ports and appease a complicit electorate in order to hide the constant ills of politics and the inability to make the country ignite again, a country by now left to rot. For every government, migrants are the scapegoat. With the noise of propaganda, they manage to fill people’s heads with false problems, and in the meantime continue to produce poverty, insecurity and destroy social, civil and political rights.

There are also those who applaud the racist edicts and are enjoying the current policies. One day they will pay a very high price for their actions.

Last week we published a letter sent by the President of the National Commission for the recognition of international protection, in which he provided indications relating to the request for protection by Tunisian citizens, soliciting the silence of the members of the different territorial commissions.

On July 4th, the minister of the interior issued a circular that laid down an attempt to limit the recognition of humanitarian protection, with an eye towards its total elimination.

The minister forgot – or perhaps entirely ignored – that humanitarian protection derives from the obligations of our Constitution and the international conventions and treaties ratified by the Italian state. The minister claims that humanitarian protection persists despite the introduction of subsidiary protection, either forgetting or ignoring the fact that these are two different acts that are applied in different ways. Furthermore, the circular is based on mistaken presuppositions, containing information deprived of any basis: it claim that recent years the renewal of permits for humanitarian reasons has happened without re-examination by the Territorial Commissions and that humanitarian protection does not exist in other European countries. The almost intimidating tone is unacceptable, by which the presidents of the Commissions are encouraged to have “rigour and a scrupulous manner” in order to put a stop to an excessive recognition of humanitarian protection, conditioned by a “bloated jurisprudence”, putting into question “social problems that heighten the reasons for security”.

Recalling that a political body cannot influence the work of an administrative body that has a precise duty in relation to, and within a concrete interpretation of, the law, we emphasise that the members of the Territorial Commissions – the composition of which now includes the new agents of the ministry of the interior – are bound to work independently and without political conditioning.

While violence and verbal ferocity circles on social media without pause, in real life events are continuously more serious and alarming. There are more and more aggression and violence towards migrants. Every day we receive complaints of abuse and abandonment by the cooperatives that seem to have a free hand over the still-flourishing business of migrant reception and housing. And so the centres are changing from one day to the next, from centres for unaccompanied foreign minors to emergency centres for adults*, perhaps maintaining the same residents, forcing many young people into a bureaucratic limbo, people from who we have stolen a future. These are entirely commercial operations given permission by a collaborative politics that continues to attack the migration business with nothing more than sterile declarations that increase racism and hatred against migrants themselves. While many centres for minors (both first and second level reception) close, as has been emphasised over and over, others continue to open, despite everything.

It is increasingly important to understand what’s happening in the Sicilian regional government, to understand who and according to what criteria the opening of these new centres is being authorised, given the accounts emerging regarding a range of anomalies. This is an increasingly complex business with the opening of many centres of initial reception for minors funded through the European integration fund (FAMI).* The unaccompanied minors now arrive directly into the FAMI centres across Italy, but anomalies continue. There are in fact FAMI-funded centres which are entirely empty, and minors who are instead transferred to normal initial reception centres. This could be a coincidental fact, apart from the fact that it is always the same centres that are filled up, while the smaller ones without political support remain empty and near to closure. We recall that the FAMI centres are payed even if they are empty, always, for the entirety of the project. The methods of appeasing the big business of the migrant industry are never exhausted: the news of arrests in Trapani came only a few days ago.

Furthermore, we are gathering a number of complaints regarding total negligence in relation to psychological vulnerabilities among those who manage to arrive. As MEDU (Doctors for Human Rights) have described in various reports, many of the arriving migrants suffer post-traumatic stress disorder connected to the journey and their time spent in Libya, aside from difficult experiences before the journe yitself. These people are often victims of being sectioned due to the inadequacy of care received in the centres, as well as – and above all – the inadequacy of the institutional bodies that ought to protect them. Even the central SPRAR office is unable to guarantee that vulnerable subjects are housed in appropriate centres. The majority of centres is unable of accompanying resident migrants and providing the support that they are bound by contract to provide. Across Sicily, hundreds of young people leave the centres after years in the system (whether dignified or not) because they have a permit to stay for humanitarian protection buy no request has been made for their transfer into a SPRAR centre.

And while the new sheriffs on land and sea are managing to made the Mediterranean an even larger cemetery, the media is silent about the arrivals that continue to reach our coastline. Over recent days 57 people who left Turky were rescued by the Italian Coast Guard and brought to Augusta. A small group of Tunisians arrived on Favignana. And yesterday the Irish navy vessel the Samuel Beckett, under the project EUNAVFORMED, arrived in Messina having saved 106 migrants.

Our Constitution is drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, along with thousands of human beings. And faced with this fact, the majority of people is being sucked into a vortex of hatred, on an extremely dangerous path. We must try not to go down, and to resist this wave of Fascism, for as long as there are people who will not resign themselves to all this there will always be hope for change. As a friend says: “And wherever they do not open the gates, I will be there to keep opening windows. And through those windows we must not only allow people to pass, but we must tell histories through them, and above all overcome the din and violence of those who sew hatred.”

Borderline Sicilia, Editorial


*Emergency centres = CAS (Centro di accoglienza straordinaria)

* Centres of initial reception for minors funded through the European integration fund = Centri di prima accoglienza per minori finanziati con fondi FAMI
* Normal initial reception centres = CPA (Centro di prima accoglienza)

* SPRAR = Sistema di protezione per richedienti di asilo e rifiugati


Project “OpenEurope” – Oxfam Italia, Diaconia Valdese, Borderline Sicilia Onlus

Translation by Richard Braude