1. Italy and Niger: what’s behind the agreement on migrant flows?
An agreement between Italy and Niger was signed on 2017, ostensibly to strengthen cooperation between the two countries on defense, migrant flow mangagement and security.
The previously unpublished deal, which was not ratified by the Italian Parliament, has a dark side: “Money, influence, weapons. Italy is trying to exert its influence in strategic countries such as Niger through migration controll” Salvatore Fachile, an attorney with the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration, said to Il Fatto Quotidiano.
“It seems that the goal is to start an industrial cooperation, unilaterally,” Gennaro Santoro, a CILD attorney said to Avvenire – by exploiting an agreement originally intended to help security and migrant flow management.”
The Italian military mission (70 units on a total 470), as Nigrizia reported, “is part of an opaque context, with Parliament still discussing an extension of the mission to the last quarter of 2018 without discussing an extension to 2019, which still sees men on the ground. The economic plan (military industry) is introduced next to a generic security plan which includes migration control, but not explicitly.”
As we wrote, the text was published after a court in Lazio ordered the Ministry of foreign affairs to release it, following legal actions from ASGI, CILD, Naga and Rete Disarmo. You can read the full text here il testo integrale.
You can also reread Giacomo Zandonini’s 3-part special report on Niger.
2. The EU’s deal with Libya is sentencing refugees to death
The EU’s deal with Libya is sentencing refugees to death, according to Sally Hayden in the Guardian, who is in daily contact with people in Libyan detention centres. As she reports, any hope that the country might be a safe haven is gone. This is confirmed by a new report from UNCHR and UNSMIL , titled “Desperate and dangerous: report on the human situation of migrants and refugees in Lybia”.
Meanwhile, Admiral De Giorgi, former chief of staff of the Italian navy and mastermind of the operation Mare Nostrum in Mediterranean, voiced his concerns over Libya, saying that there are no save havens in the country.
3. Mered Trial: prosecutor’s witness are Sudanese secret agents
Criticism has come from abroad after Palermo prosecutors’ decision to summon two Sudanese officers as witnesses Medhanie Yehdego Mered, an alleged people smuggler who claims to be a victim of mistaken identity. The judges are relying on testimony from two members of Sudan’s secret police, while the country is ruled by Omar Hassan al-Bashir who has been accused of war crimes.
“Any collaboration between Italy and the Sudanese police is morally unacceptable. NISS officers are often invited to Italy. We might as well extend an invitation to dictator Bashir, and let the ICC apprehend him,” said Riccardo Noury, an Amnesty spokesperson in Italy.
Since the trial began, Open Migration has written about the case of mistaken identity. Lorenzo Bagnoli analysed the flaws in the fight against human traffickers.
4. Sea Eye sails again in memory of Alan
After being blocked for 19 days at sea, unable to brink rescued migrants to shore – an ordeal shared with the Sea Watch – German NGO Sea Eye will return to the Mediterranean with a ship named after Alan Kurdi.
The story of Alan, the three-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish shore during the height of Europe’s migrant crisis, galvanizing global opinion..
The ceremony for the name change, held in Palma de Mallorca in Spain, was attended by Alan’s father, Abdullah Kurdi and his aunt, Tima Kurdi:
“We are happy that a German rescue ship will carry the name of our boy. My boy on the beach must never be forgotten. Our grief for the loss of my wife and sons is shared by many, by thousands of families who have so tragically lost sons and daughters this way“.
5. UK, no jail for the Stansted 15
In 2017, 15 activists had chained themselves together around a Boeing 767 chartered by the Home Office to deport 60 people to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Their offence carries a potential life sentences, but after a 10-week trial, they have all received suspended sentences or community orders.
The judge decided not to imprison them after he accepted they were motivated by “genuine reasons”.
“”We are relieved we’re not going to prison, but these terror convictions and the 10-week trial that have led to them are an injustice and have profound implications for all of our lives”, the activists said after the sentence, CNN reported.
6. Solidarity among Mediterranean cities
The mayors of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Zaragoza, together with Palermo, Milan, Bologna, Naples, Siracusa and Latina have launched a manifesto, three months before the European election, against the policy of closing the ports. They are calling for increased support to the rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean, and even more importantly, an agreement to stop “the involution in the foundational principles of Europe, which are at risk of being lost”.
Meanwhile, many Italian cities have appealed to the Consolidation Immigration Act to register migrants and bypass the Salvini decree.
7. The closure of the CARA Mineo has begun
On Thursday, the first 44 migrants were transferred from the CARA Mineo, the migrant centre that the government expects to shut down by the end of the year. Six more soon to be transferred migrants chose to leave the centre. As the centre’s manager, Francesco Magnano, explained, “They are free individuals, with a residency permit, and they can leave any time they want. Of course, by doing so they have lost the right to being hosted in government facilities.”
The CARA Mineo is the largest centre for asylum seekers in Europe, and the largest to close down after the one in Castelnuovo di Porto, near Rome.
8. Border deaths
He was 29 and from Togo, his body was found by a truck driver near Montgenèvre, frozen as he died to cross into France. As we reported, after the closing of the border at Ventimiglia, more and more migrants are choosing the Alpine route. A treacherous crossing made even more dangerous by snow and a lack of adequate protection against the cold.
Last year, three migrants died on these Alpine passes, in addition to the deaths Michele Luppi and Andrea Quadroni wrote about for us.
9. Council of Europe takes issue with Italy’s migrant policy
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, has called upon Italy to uphold the human rights of refugees.
In an open letter to PM Conte, she declares she is “deeply concerned”over the “the implications of the above-mentioned Decree-Law on the right to access reception and essential services, such as health and education, of residents holding the humanitarian protection permit and by disconcerting reports that a number of persons would potentially be at risk of homelessness in this connection..
Another passage of the letter, which was sent in late January, focused on the criminalisation of the NGOs, and Italy’s past efforts in “saving lives at sea and in receiving asylum seekers and migrants”.
Furthermore, testimony of migrants on board the ship Diciotti might result into legal action before the European Court of Human Rights against Italy for degrading treatment.
10. UN Committee against Torture rules against the return of a refugee and victim of torture from Switzerland to Italy
A refugee victim of torture cannot be sent to a country where he or she will not be able to receive adequate medical treatment, the UN Committee against Torture decided in a case concerning the return of an Ethiopian refugee from Switzerland back to Italy. The applicant had been imprisoned and tortured in Ethiopia for his membership in the Oromo Liberation Front. He fled to Italy, where he was recognised as a refugee and received urgent medical care. The medical conditions resulting from his torture were never addressed. After realising he would not be able to receive adequate treatment, he travelled to Norway, where he was hospitalised, but then sent back to Italy.
The Committee concluded that the Federal Administrative Tribunal assumed that the applicant would generally be safe in Italy instead of examining his particular vulnerability as an asylum seeker and victim of torture. The return was found to violate Article 3 of the CAT and Switzerland was instructed to abstain from the enforcement of the return decision.
Foto di copertina: migranti abbandonati nel Sahara vengono trovati da una pattuglia militare, sulla rotta verso la Libia (foto: Giacomo Zandonini)