Newsletter Migrantsicily – May 2012

  • Possibilities still “open” on the question of migrants on Lampedusa
  • Boats begin arriving again in Pozzallo (Rg)
  • Update on the situation at Cassibile
  • The situation at the Vulpitta CIE (Immigrant Detention Centre), Trapani
  • Escape attempts and high tension at the Milo CIE: journalists and police rebel
  • Decree published extending North African permits on humanitarian grounds
  • Observatory on the violation of the right to a defence: good new
  • Tunisian delegation in Italy: update on the missing relatives


In April we spoke out
against the illegal detention of 24 Somalis who had been held for weeks in a
hotel on Lampedusa. They arrive after having miraculously survived yet another
shipwreck in the Sicily Canal.

On the 7th May, 17 Tunisians
who had been intercepted by the carabinieri 10 miles off the coast joined the asylum
seekers already present on the island.

Cala Creta residence has been empty since mid May. The Sub- Saharan
migrants have been sent to various reception centres for those seeking
international protection, in Sicily and Calabria. The Tunisians have been sent
to the hangar in the port of Pozzallo where they await repatriation.

night of the 23rd May saw the 5 remaining Tunisians on Lampedusa board a boat
which transported them to Italy to rejoin their co-nationals at Pozzallo.
Whilst the Tunisians were boarding, it was necessary to transfer them back on
to the quay as the boat began to sink. Was this a sadistic goodbye present from
the authorities? Or maybe it is a question of public utility- a sign that it is
necessary to have buildings and residences ready for the new “goods”
which are sure to arrive.

the next few hours, the Minister of the Interior is expected to give the go
ahead for a series of consultations firstly to discuss the possibility of
revoking the measures which Maroni used in order to declare Lampedusa an
“unsafe port” in September 2011 and secondly, to renew the
responsibilities of the organisation Praesidium.

These two points, in
particular the second- which will also depend on the evaluation of the poor
results in the past few years of the migrant system in Italy, which has been
condemned on more than one occasion by the European Community for the violation
perpetrated by the way in which the influx of migrants has been managed- could
lead to the system of aid, reception, placement and treatment of migrants being
redesigned for the whole region.

After the flop of the
2011-2012 management on behalf of the Civil Protection, the most salient point
to resolve appears to be that of funding.

Lampedusa, as a Centre is
anyhow officially ready to be reopened. The date, nonetheless, is yet to be


28th May saw the arrival of the first boat to reach the Ragusan coast. 76
people arrived, yet they spoke of a further four who had not survived the
journey. Deaths in the Mediterranean and the practice of mass repatriations
continue to occur. As do arrests for the illegal trafficking of migrants, made
on the basis of swiftly carried out investigations which leave room for many

asylum seekers and minors are being housed in a local sports centre while they
wait to be placed in reception centres.

Tunisians who have arrived over the past few weeks, have been transferred to
the hangar in a Ragusan port whilst awaiting their repatriation. None of the
government accredited organisations (OIM, CRI, Acnur, Save the Children) have
been granted access to the structure, except for the Italian Red Cross who are
distributing basic essentials and medicines on behalf of the Civil Protection.

Praesidium project expires in June. This will allow the Minister for the
Interior to start up discussions again on the role of the various organisations
who, over the years, guarantee (or at least should guarantee) that
procedures of access to international protection and the departure from Italian
soil, as well as access to fundamental rights are all respected. If on the one
hand, their presence has, on more than one occasion, led to the avoidance of
resounding violations of human rights; on the other hand, it has rather
conveniently maintained a facade for the Italian government, which has
attempted to cover up the illegitimate standards adopted in Sicily’s migrant


in other years, hundreds of migrants arrive in Cassibile at this time of year
in search of work. Those who are hired, find that they are exploited,
underpaid, recruited by “bosses”, housed in abandoned structures or
have to sleep directly in the fields surrounded by the earth they spend the day
working on. These are the same conditions which are also found on the other
stages of the so-called seasonal work circuit. Caporalato– the way in
which the “bosses” operate the hiring of workers and the working
conditions offered, has, since September 2011, become a penal offence. Yet this
has nonetheless done little to decrease the phenomenon. One of the main reasons
behind this, is the lack of protection for anyone reporting the crime. And,
like every year, the authorities intervene only to allocate funds for the
preparation of a huge campsite. The campsite is run by the Red Cross, yet in
order to have access to it, migrants must be in possession of a permit of stay.


has also been at the centre of further immigrant related scandals in recent
years. One case is that of the CARA (Hosting Centre for Asylum Seekers) run by
the association Alma Mater which has since closed.

though the trial is still on going, it is understood that one of the partners
of the Oasi consortium (which, with a greatly reduced offer, has been
granted the management contracts for CIEs (Immigration Detention Centres) in
Modena and Bologna) is the former vice president of Alma Mater.


On May 11th 2012, the politician Alessandra
Siragusa (Democratic Party) visited the CIE (Immigrant Detention Centre) Serraino
in Trapani together with Laura Verduci from the Palermo
AntiRaacist Forum
and the freelance journalist Alessio Genovese. In their
report, Verduci and Genovese speak out against the inhumane conditions within
the structure. Nearly all of the rooms have glass missing from the windows. The
migrants complain about the cold and the mosquitoes. Hygiene conditions are
dire and the toilets don’t work. The Director says there are currently 41
migrants at the Centre, yet the visitors say there are over 50 there (the
Centre has 43 places). A group of Egyptians are living in a separate room
waiting to be repatriated. Nearly all of the migrants there have either been
transferred from other CIEs in Italy or come directly from prisons. Some of
them are suffering from health problems, many are suffering from depression and
there are often cases of self-harming and attempted suicide.

On the 23rd
April, some representatives from the LasciateCIEntrare campaign
organised a rally in front of Vulpitta. There were able to communicate
from a distance with the migrants being held inside: “How many of you
are there? -More than 60 people, eight to a room -But lawyers come to see you?-
Yes, yes there are lawyers, yes, but… -How long have you been here? -6 months,
8 months, 8½ months -Is there anyone
here who was sent from Milo? – Yes, he spent 6 months there and now 2 months
here. We’ve arrived here from Turin, Milan, Bari- they’ve brought people here
from all over Italy. -Have you had the
validation of the judge? -We’ve never seen a judge…Journalists, can I say
something? For more than a week now, there has been a spate of attempted
hangings and incidents of self- harm: one guy opened his stomach, another slit
his wrists…
People are dying, dying. They don’t
help us…they offer no kind of help at all. We are dying of hunger, dying of
depression because we have been here for 6 months, 8 months closed inside
without being given any kind of information.

never come because they stay with the management…they never call to see us,
nothing works. We can write all these things down- I’ll be the first to sign,
to put my name down.


the 27th May around 100 detainees have managed to eascape from the Milo
CIE (Immigration Detention Centre) in Trapani

would seem that those who have remained inside have also taken the punishment
on behalf of those who escaped.

police trade unions have also raised a voice of indignation towards the
inhumane working conditions of the Trapani centre.

would also like to report on one of the more salient passages of SIULP
press release: “And so there is only one possible solution-
one which has already been repeatedly requested- to increase the amount of
staff employed at the Milo CIE, because making a structure, whose
purpose is to work towards the identification and expulsion of irregular
immigrants, just “survive” can only be a waste of energy, people and
resources, not to mention the issue of the lack of security.”

hand information about the conditions in which the migrants live, or should I
say “survive”, in the Milo centre comes from journalists from
the TMNews agency and from a delegation of a further twenty journalists, who
have been able to gain access to the CIE over the last couple of days–10809.asp


A month away from the expiry of permits for
humanitarian reasons issued under the DCPM (Decreto del Presidente del Consiglio
dei Ministri- First Minister’s Decree) of 5th April 2011 (,
the government has finally enacted a decree that establishes a further 6 month
extension. Furthermore, an official notice from the Minister of the Interior
clarifies that the permits will be renewed automatically. The police
headquarters are nonetheless responsible for renewing the permit if so
required, at the relevant Immigration Office.

The decree:

The notice:

It is
still necessary, however, to address the issue of the refugees who arrived in
Italy in 2011 from Lybia. It has been demanded that the majority of them be
issued with a permit on humanitarian grounds. The Commission has nonetheless
issued numerous rejections for international protection, which is condemning
thousands of people to lives as irregular immigrants.


In the March newsletter, we highlighted the decision
taken by the Catania Bar Council which suspended all access to legal aid for
asylum seekers. The Catania Bar Council presented queries about the suitability of the
documents necessary in such proceedings to the President of the Court

Maintaining that the measure was clearly not legal,
two members of the Sicilian section of ASGI (Associazione Studi Giuridici
sull’Immigrazione- Association for the Judicial Studies on Immigration)
appealed against the decision to the Catania TAR (Tribunale
Amministrativo Regionale- Regional Administrative Tribune).

A few days
after the appeal, the Bar Council, even though it continued to defend its
legitmacy, enacted a decision which revoked the measure. It is therefore hoped
that this outcome will lead the Bar Council to re-evaluate the case for legal
aid for asylum seekers paid for by the State, and that through the examination
of the legitimacy of each individual case and with the possibility for each
asylum seeker to refer directly to the relevant Court of Appeal, access of the
right to a defence for migrant asylum seekers will therefore be re-established.

See the
decision 15.05.2012:


In January, members of a delegation
arrived in Palermo from Tunisia looking for members of their families who were
missing, who they maintained had disappeared after having arrived in Sicily.
The families of the missing Tunisians carried out months of protests in front of
the Tunisian Consulate in Palermo. They then met with an official from the
Agrigento Immigration Office and visited some of the Centres for migrants in
Sicily. Following on from this, they then went to Rome, where they spoke with
officials from the Tunisian Embassy and the Minister of the Interior.
Napolitano, himself, also personally received them and said to one of the
mothers, “Madam, don’t cry”.

The delegation believe that nothing has
come from their request to the Italian government to cross- check the
fingerprints of their missing family members. Representatives of the
“2511” committee (set up to deal with this case) went to Tunisia to
hold talks with the Minister of the Interior. “In the meantime,” the
committee states, “last week we also spent a few days in Tunisia and met
with the mothers and the families (…) and sought to speak with the
authorities, from whom we have received conflicting information: the cross
examination of the fingerprints has been completed and the results are
negative; 60% of the cross examination has been carried out and the results
will be communicated all together on its completion; negative results have
already been communicated.” Given that the Tunisian family members who are
currently still in Italy have not received any test results (which should have
examined the fingerprints of those missing with the database of migrants who
arrived in Sicily in 2011), the “2511” committee has publicly
declared that it will hold a press conference where it will demand an official
communication of the results and call for an investigation into the whole