Used as a CIE (Centro di identificazione ed espulsione: Immigration Detention Centre), the centre in Pozzallo should be considered outside of the law. We spoke to the lawyer Paola Ottaviano from the organisation ASGI (Association for the Judicial Studies on Immigration), who defends some of the migrants there.
“There many different types of problems with the Centre in Pozzallo. One concerns the structure: it is in a hangar in the industrial part of the port, which should be used as a CSPA (Centro di Soccorso e Prima Accoglienza- First Reception Centre), considering that Pozzallo is a place where the boats arrive, exactly like Lampedusa. This centre should be being used for a maximum of 48 hours with the aim of helping those who arrive from the sea, indentifying them, assisting them and finally sending them on to other structures. Now, however, the centre is being used as a detention centre, because groups of migrants who arrived in Lampedusa and Pantelleria are brought there and left in the centre without any confirmation from a judge. And they stay there a lot longer than 48 hours- some are actually there for one, two, even three weeks waiting for the order to be repatriated to come from Catania,” says the lawyer Paola Ottaviano of ASGI (Association for the Judicial Studies on Immigration), who works on the defence for some of the migrants.
“The agreements between Maroni and Tunisia strengthened the repatriation agreements which were already in operation by also enlisting flights from Catania to send the Tunisians back. As a consequence, Pozzallo began being used as a transit centre for those waiting to be repatriated from Catania. But all of this was illegal in the sense that people were being held without any type of confirmation from a judge. And for this reason a CSPA is being used as a CIE, which it most certainly isn’t,” continued Ottaviano.
Meanwhile, this dramatic situation, which is seeing the erosion of the fundamental rights of the migrants forced to live in a hangar which is passed off as a reception centre, is being denounced by more and more parties. “Even if we assume that lack of information and illegal detention are things which fill us with indignation, our Constitution clearly states that a person cannot be deprived of their personal freedom for more than 48 hours if there is no judge who imposes these measures. Yet, we are finding ourselves faced with a different situation: the police are using their own measures to limit the personal freedom of others. This is much more than a violation of rights or an abuse of power”.