Article first published on March 4, 2022
Almost two years have passed since the establishment of the quarantine ships and, over time, serious criticalities have emerged. Red Cross operators themselves who work there institutionally confirm these.
We refer to the obstacles to accessing the request for international protection, in line with the practices implemented at the border before the pandemic, the lack of guarantees regarding the deprivation of personal freedom, the lack of services, unjustifiably long periods of stay, the inadequate hygienic situation, the fact that unaccompanied foreign minors and people in vulnerable conditions still remain on board the ships instead of guaranteeing their rights in appropriate ways, times and places. The procedures have not substantially changed in recent months, and there are still very serious critical issues with reference to the respect of the rights of people arriving in the territory.
With this appeal, we call on the Government, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Health and the other parties involved to put an end to the system of quarantine ships and to adopt procedures that guarantee the safety, right to asylum, personal freedom and dignified reception of people arriving on Italian territory.
The establishment of quarantine ships is a discriminatory practice that seriously violates the fundamental rights of foreign citizens subjected to it, first and foremost the right to health, as demonstrated by the many testimonies of migrants and workers on board the ships and as recounted by the deaths of Bilal Ben Massaud, Abou Diakite and Abdallah Said.
A measure that seems all the more discriminatory if read in the light of the recent order of the Ministry of Health of 22 February 2022, which in the matter of entry into the national territory of people coming from foreign countries, whether Italian citizens or foreigners, in the absence of specific documentation a period of five days of quarantine is required. From this point of view, the unreasonable inequality of treatment is further accentuated, where the procedures implemented towards foreign citizens arriving by sea, clearly differ from the measures to which foreign citizens arriving in Italy by other means are subject.
The people remain in a condition of very strong isolation without immediate access to the territory and without full and adequate access to information about their rights and how to exercise them; without adequate legal protection through specialised personnel; without effective protection of people in vulnerable situations and without access to specialised services.
The necessary concern to protect the right to individual and collective health should be guaranteed by other measures that, first and foremost, guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of people arriving and which, moreover, would not entail higher costs than quarantine ships, which are used with criteria that are not always transparent, clear and efficient.
It seems appropriate to establish procedures to protect the health of all people, which do not include quarantine ships and do not give rise to differentiated procedures for foreign nationals, ensuring that migrants arriving are given immediate reception and, in the event of a positive Covid-test, appropriate treatment and care. At this stage, the possibility of exercising the right to asylum, by allowing access to cultural mediators and NGOs, the right to personal freedom and the right of defence must in any case be guaranteed.
Two years after the outbreak of the pandemic, there is no justification for emergency measures that are detrimental to the dignity of people and to reception, and which constitute a further step in the evolution and amplification of the hotspot approach and the violations resulting from it, with serious consequences on the lives of the people involved.
This is why we call on the Government to definitively close the system of quarantine ships and to adopt procedures for the reception of migrants that meet the humanitarian standards of a country that “declares itself” to be a place where the right of asylum and the fundamental rights of all people are protected.
March 3, 2022
Asgi (Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione – Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration)
Meditteranean Hope Lampedusa
Ambasciata dei Diritti Ancona (Embassy of Rights Ancona)
Arci Porco Rosso Palermo
Associazione Lungo la Rotta Balcanica (Association Along the Balkan Route)
Associazione per la Pace Padova (Association for Peace Padua)
Centro diaconale La Noce (La Noce Deacon Centre)
Consulta per la pace, la nonviolenza, i diritti umani, il disarmo (Consultation for peace, nonviolence, human rights, disarmament)
Emmaus Palermo odv
FOCSIV/Federazione Organismi Cristiani Servizio Internazionale Volontario (Federation of Christian International Voluntary Service Organisations)
Forum Antirazzista Palermo (Anti-Racist Forum Palermo)
Forum Lampedusa Solidale
Gruppo Lavoro Rifugiati (Refugee Working Group)
Il Grande Colibrì ODV (The Great Hummingbird ODV)
Legal Team Italia (Legal Team Italy)
Movimento per l’Autosviluppo, l’Interscambio e la Solidarietà (Movement for Self-Development, Interchange and Solidarity)
Medici Senza Frontiere Italia (Doctors Without Borders Italy)
Nena News Near Est News Agency
Next – Nuove Energie X il Territorio (New Energies X for the Territory)
Pagine Esteri (Foreign Pages)
Redazione – Progetto MeltingPot Europa (Editorial Staff – MeltingPot Europe Project)
Redazione La Bottega del Barbieri (Editorial staff La Bottega del Barbieri)
Rete Antirazzista Catanese (Catanese Antiracist Network)
Terra Nuova, Centro per la Solidarietà e la Cooperazione tra i Popoli onlus (Terra Nuova, Centre for Solidarity and Cooperation among Peoples onlus)
UDI Palermo Onlus (Unione Donne Italiane – Union of Italian Women)
Giulia Tranchina, avvocata, Wilson Solicitors LLP
Mari D’Agostino, Università di Palermo
Article translated from Italian by Alexa Vittur