Report on visit to Immigration Detention Centre (CIE) Serraino Vulpitta 11th May 2012

by Laura Verduci

The European MP Alessandra
Siragusa, Laura Verduci and Alessio Genovese plus assistants were granted
access to the Immigrant Detention Centre (CIE) Serraino Vulpitta in Trapani at 12.15pm on the 11th March 2012.

The Centre is housed in 1920s Liberty
style building. It first opened in July 1998 as the old people’s home Rosa Serraino Vulpitta, and part of the
building still has this function today. Doctor Mondello tells us about escape
attempts from the CIE which involved the old people, often against their will.

We are told about the upcoming closure of the centre for restructuring
work. The building is very rundown. It is in a state of decay (especially the
part where the migrants are detained), nearly all of the rooms have missing
window panes (except the offices and the room which is used for hearings with
the Territorial Commission). This is why the detainees complain about the cold
and the mosquitoes and it is why they hang hand towels and pieces of cloth from
the windows. The Centre is divided into three sections.

The information we receive concerning when the restructuring will
actually happen is contradictory: Doctor Mondello from the Trapani Prefecture
states it will begin next month; the Director of the Centre, Doctor Cardella,
doesn’t know when it will start; moreover, the journalist Raffaella Cosentino
from Redattore Sociale has recently
been denied access to the Centre due to “restructuring work”.

On the 11th May, the Director tells us that there are 41
“guests” in the Centre. In realty, it is likely there are over 50: 15
Egyptians, who have probably not been formally identified are living in a
separate small room, probably waiting to be repatriated.

Nearly all the immigrants detained in the Centre are ex-convict asylum
seekers of different nationalities: Tunisians, Egyptians, Albanians, Ivorians,

The cooperative which has been running the Centre since 2000 is called Insieme and is part of the Connecting People group.

Since 2000, the Director of the Centre has been Doctor Cardella.

There is no canteen within the structure. External catering is used,
food arrives three times a day through the company Micol My Chef.

The Director tells us that the running of the Centre was worse ten years
ago and in answer to questions about the centre’s running costs, the answers
are evasive.

The Insieme Team is made up
of: cultural mediators, legal assistants, a psychologist, doctors and nurses
who work shifts.

Currently an immigrant costs €40 a day.

As far as the forces of law are concerned, in the Centre 4 policemen are
always present as well as 10 men from the mobile unit (said to be present only
in moments of high tension or riots) plus 6 members of the army.

Within the accommodation, no photography is permitted.

Many of the detainees suffer from various conditions, including severe

There are frequent cases of self- harming and suicide.

The bathrooms are broken- pipes leak and the lack of hygiene is
detrimental to the immigrants’ health.

Many of the immigrants come from prisons throughout Italy. Many of
them have lawyers who are not based in Sicily,
who have now nominated a legal representative from the Trapani Forum. Yet it is
extremely unlikely they will be adequately defended.