Statewatch released an Analysis by Yasha Maccanico entitled “The EU’s self-interested response to unrest in north Africa: the meaning of treaties and readmission agreements between Italy and north African states.” The Analysis provides a description of Italy’s responses to the migrant arrivals in 2011 caused by the unrest in North Africa.
Excerpts: “The ‘crisis’ reveals questionable practices and routine abuses – The measures adopted in response to the increasing number of migrants arriving from north African countries serve to highlight a number of practices that have become commonplace in Italy in recent years.
The first of these is a widening of the concept of ‘emergency.’ Calling an emergency gives the government a wider remit to derogate from specified laws so as to resolve situations that cannot be dealt with through ordinary measures….
Although the situation in north Africa was worrying, the emergency was called when slightly over 5,000 migrants had arrived. An analysis by Massimiliano Vrenna and Francesca Biondi Dal Monte for ASGI notes that the government has repeatedly called and extended states of emergency since 2002 to deal with immigration, which is treated as though it were a “natural calamity” even when there is a wholly predictable influx of people from third countries. The urgent need specified in decrees declaring a state of emergency is to conduct ‘activities to counter the exceptional – later referred to as massive – influx of immigrants on Italian territory’ (as happened on 11 December 2002, 7 November 2003, 23 December 2004, 28 October 2005, 16 March 2007, 31 December 2007, 14 February 2008 for Sicily, Calabria and Apulia and was extended to the whole nation on 25 July 2008 and 19 November 2009), stemming from a prime ministerial decree of 20 March 2002. Thus, Vrenna and Biondi Dal Monte’s observation that the emergency is ‘structural’ appears well-founded. It has serious repercussions for the treatment of migrants (see below) and the awarding of contracts outside of normal procedures, with the involvement of the civil protection department whose competencies have been expanding considerably.
The second practice involves the expulsion, refoulement or deportation of migrants outside the limits and procedures established by legislation for this purpose. The failure to identify people, to issue formal decisions on an individual basis to refuse them entry or expel them, or to give them the opportunity to apply for asylum or other forms of protection, was a key concern when boats were intercepted at sea and either the vessels or their passengers were taken back to Libya between May and September 2009, when 1,329 people were returned. These rights were also denied to people arriving from Egypt and Tunisia in application of readmission agreements in the framework of the fight against illegal migration. Their presumed nationality was deemed sufficient to enact expulsions to these countries, because ongoing cooperation and good relations with Italy appeared sufficient to indicate that they were not in need of protection, regardless of the situation in their home countries. ….
The third practice is the ill-treatment of migrants held in detention centres. Without dealing with this issue in depth, it is worth noting that what could be viewed as arbitrary detention is occurring on a large scale, in the absence of formal measures decreeing detention and without the possibility of appealing against decisions. In fact, after landing, migrants are summarily identified as either ‘illegal’ migrants or asylum seekers, largely on the basis of their nationality….”
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Filed under Analysis, Egypt, European Union, Frontex, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, Tunisia
Tagged as ASGI, Bilateral Immigration Agreements, Deaths at sea, Egypt, Eurodac, European Commission, European Union, Fast-Track Returns, Forced repatriation, Francesca Biondi Dal Monte, Franco Frattini, Frontex, Humanitarian State of Emergency, Italy, Italy-Libya Friendship Agreement, Joint Operation Hermes, José Manuel Barroso, Justice and Home Affairs, Lampedusa, Libya, Libyan National Transitional Council, Maritime Interdiction, Maritime migration, Maritime Surveillance, Massimiliano Vrenna, Muammar al-Qadhafi, NATO, Non-refoulement, Operation Unified Protector, Push-Back Practice, Readmission Agreements, Roberto Maroni, Schengen Agreement, Security Council Resolution 1973, Silvio Berlusconi, Sonia Viale, Statewatch, Temporary Residency Permits, Tunisia, Yasha Maccanico
EU President Herman Van Rompuy said during an interview on Sunday that the danger of migration to Europe should not be exaggerated and that European migration treaties, including the Schengen agreement, need to be respected. He said “[t]here is of course a migration danger, but do not overdo it.” (“Interrogé sur l’existence d’un danger migratoire lié à l’afflux de migrants depuis le début des révoltes dans le monde arabe, M. Van Rompuy a répondu : ‘Il y a bien sûr un danger migratoire mais il ne faut pas l’exagérer’, lors d’une émission d’une émission commune de la chaîne TV5Monde, la radio RFI et du journal Le Monde.”) In regard to the Schengen agreement, he said “[n]either Italy nor France, until now, has done anything illegal. That said, there is a danger of not respecting the spirit of the Schengen Treaty…” (“Ni l’Italie, ni la France, jusqu’à présent, n’ont fait quelque chose d’illégal. Ceci dit, il y a un danger de ne pas respecter l’esprit du traité de Schengen…”)
Van Rompuy’s remarks are consistent with Jose Manuel Barroso’s statements last week reported by the EU Observer regarding the danger of the “immigration debate being hijacked by ‘populist and extremist’ forces in Europe.” Barroso was quoted as saying “I don’t think it is in the interest of third countries [such as Tunisia] that there is a debate in Europe on such sensitive issues and that certain populist, extremist forces seek to take advantage of these problems.”
We got a small taste of the populist forces at work with yesterday’s results in Finland’s parliamentary elections and the strong third place showing of the True Finns led by Timo Soini. While the True Finns are currently focused more on blocking the Portuguese financial bailout, anti-immigrant sentiments within the party are strong.
Click here (FR), here (EN), and here (EN) for articles.
Filed under European Union, France, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia
Tagged as France, Herman Van Rompuy, Italy, José Manuel Barroso, Migrants, Refugees, Schengen Treaty, Timo Soini, True Finns, Tunisia
From the EU Observer: “Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi is friends with Gaddafi… Italy also has major oil, gas and arms interests in Libya and it fears a ‘biblical exodus’ of hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants and refugees if Gaddafi snaps. The head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, on Wednesday made an implicit criticism of Italian policy. ‘This question of migration, or of illegal migration, or even of refugees, is sometimes used as a way of not supporting democracy and I do not agree with that,’ [Barroso] said after meeting a top UN human rights official in the EU capital.”
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Italy has requested an extraordinary meeting of the Council of EU Heads of State to discuss the migration situation in Italy. According to the EU Observer, “Hungarian [EU Presidency] sources told EUobserver that Budapest ‘will do all it can to accommodate the Italians,’ but the timing is tight, and it is far from certain whether other EU member states will view the situation the same way as Rome.” The next regularly scheduled meeting of the EU justice and home affairs ministers who would ordinarily consider the situation and Italy’s requests for assistance is scheduled for 24-25 February.
Mario Mauro, MEP, Head of the Italian Delegation (PDL) of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, has also called upon Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso, and EP President Jerzy Buzek to convene a meeting of the EU Heads of State within the next few days. Mauro’s press release describes the situation as “an epic emergency comparable in intensity and scale to the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989” and further says that “[w]hat is happening in the Maghreb countries has to fully put into question the weakness of the EU Mediterranean Strategy. The European Commission’s solidarity initiatives or parliamentary debates will not be enough, nor will the prompt use of FRONTEX instruments. We must realise that history is making us face a challenge that has to be tackled with the same determination and the same resources used in recent years to stabilise Eastern European countries. Southern European countries should not be left alone to deal with this urgency.”
In the meantime, the Times of Malta reports that Tunisian security forces are expanding their efforts to secure the departure points in Tunisia.
Click here for MEP Mauro’s Press Release.
Click here and here for articles. (EN)
Filed under European Union, Frontex, Italy, Malta, Mediterranean, News, Tunisia
Tagged as European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, Frontex, Herman Van Rompuy, Italy, Jerzy Buzek, José Manuel Barroso, Lampedusa, Malta, Mario Mauro, Maritime Interdiction, Migrants, Refugees, Tunisia