Smugglers by force
“The smugglers have told us that the last two people embarking were expected to take the boat’s helm and compass. I told them that I was neither able to use a compass nor to navigate a boat”, said an African minor coming from Libya, whom Italian authorities suspect to be a smuggler. “They replied that they did not care. Then they beat me with a pipe”. According to the data of the Italian Ministry of Interior, 1500 people were arrested since 2013 for alleged smuggling in Italy. But how many of them were actually accomplices of smugglers and not simply migrants forced to take the helm?
“If you are told: ‘Drive the dinghy’ you cannot say no, it is a matter of life or death”, explains Amir Sharaf, interpreter for the joint forces group opposing clandestine immigration.
The Italian courts often give a harsh punishment to people accused of having guided a boat with migrants on board. For the first time however, on September 8th 2016, in the acquittal of two alleged smugglers, a judge in Palermo described their condition as one that was dictated by a “state of necessity”.
The video of Zona e Unozerozerouno.
Translation: Greta Pallaver