Human and civil rights activists have reported ongoing violations and discrimination at the migrant hotspot on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, targeting Tunisian nationals in particular. The reports raise concern also in view of the possible creation of further migrant centres in Europe and in countries of origin and transit.
Migrants at the Lampedusa hotspot continue to suffer arbitrary restriction of their personal freedom, being confined to the centre or the island even in the absence of specific norms, according to ‘In Limine’, a pilot project of Cild, Asgi, IndieWatch and ActionAid to monitor arrivals, reception and access to international protection on the Sicilian island. The violations appear to target Tunisian nationals in particular.
Tunisian migrants discriminated against
The defining characteristic of the hotspots “remains somewhat uncertain in the absence of a law setting out the procedures that should be followed there and the nature of such centres”, the NGOs said in a statement. According to testimony gathered by the project, “Tunisian nationals are allegedly subject to discriminatory practices: while for individuals arriving from sub-Saharan Africa asylum procedures are started almost automatically, Tunisians allegedly find the way barred and are not given adequate information,” the statement continued.
“These procedures, which are often only enacted by virtue of the country of origin, often result in forced repatriation to Tunisia in violation of the current law and which is of a collective nature,” the NGOs added.
Violations of migrants’ rights
The NGOs recall that the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers asked the Italian government to present a report on action taken to prevent a repeat of the violations already ascertained by the ECHR by June 2018. While waiting to read what it says, “In Limine has produced and sent to the Committee of Ministers a detailed counter-report showing how the significant violations continue to occur at the Lampedusa hotspot,” reads the statement.
The procedures used to distinguish asylum seekers from so-called ‘economic migrants’ “remain somewhat obscure and contradictory, particularly regarding limitations on personal freedom, access to asylum procedures and repatriation procedures”. In light of the possible opening of further centres in Europe and in countries of origin and transit “fully understanding the defining characteristics of the hotspot approach appears to be of urgent importance, in order to effectively counter the violations underway and prevent them from being reproduced on a European and African scale”.
TunisianMonitorOnline (Info Migrants)