RSI LA1, the Swiss Italian-language television network, last month broadcasted a one hour documentary, Mare deserto , produced by Emiliano Bos and Paul Nicol. The documentary is in Italian. It investigates the events that occurred between 25 March and 10 April 2011 when a disabled migrant boat attempting to travel from Libya to Italy drifted for days during which time approximately 60 persons died. Survivors from the migrant boat reported that at various times military ships and helicopters ignored their requests for assistance. The producers located and interviewed 9 of the known survivors in Italy, Tunisia and Norway.
Tag Archives: Laura Boldrini
Mare Deserto: RSI documentary about the failure to rescue and subsequent deaths of 60 migrants in the Mediterranean in March 2011
There has been evidence for many months that the Gaddafi regime was facilitating migrant boat departures from Libya towards Italy and Malta; here are two recent articles on the topic from the Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph.
LA Times: “… During its life as a military base, the impromptu camp [at Janzour / Zanzour] was heavily guarded, but in recent in months, several people from the area said, Kadafi’s government facilitated the entry of Africans hoping to migrate by boat to Europe. … The military base was run by a Kadafi operative named Zuhair, according to several people familiar with its operation. As rebels approached Tripoli, they said, Zuhair was seen taking off in a speedboat, accompanied by his top aide and two bodyguards. … [The base] is also the scene of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s most bizarre and cynical plans; an operation to flood Europe with black African illegal immigrants in revenge for Nato’s bombing campaign. For months until the uprising in Tripoli two weeks ago, men in uniform were seen around the port directing the loading of immigrants onto leaky boats bound for Italy. Africans who landed this summer on the tiny island of Lampedusa – a speck of rock south of Sicily – said they had paid nothing for their passage, in contrast to the $1,000 fee usually demanded by people smugglers. No boats have left since the rebels drove Gaddafi’s men out, but the human cargo is still stranded there; a thousand desperate black African men, women and children, clustered in the dirt under beached boats in utter squalor, hungry, scared, penniless, and desperate to escape….”
The Telegraph: “…[a] man, who would not give his name, claimed that the port [of Zanzour] had been controlled by a shadowy official called Zuhair, who had vanished when the rebels arrived. ‘He is a Palestinian originally, with several passports,’ the man said. ‘He had people under him and they sent the boats to Lampedusa.’ There seems little likelihood that the operation was being conducted without official sanction; Zanzour is located not on some remote, unpoliced stretch of coast but within an old military base, only about ten miles west of Tripoli, an area which was firmly under Gaddafi’s control until recently. … Laura Boldrini, of UNHCR, warned that illegal immigration could get much worse in the months ahead, adding that nobody knew how the new government would deal with the problem. ‘What happens depends on security,’ she said. ‘If violence explodes in Libya, there is a danger of a massive new influx of people trying to escape.’”
Click on these links for some previous posts on the subject:
UNHCR spokesperson Laura Boldrini has said that the UNHCR was surprised at Foreign Minister Frattini’s claim that UNHCR was somehow involved in any new migration agreement between Italy and the Libyan National Transitional Council. According to TM News Boldrini said “there is no involvement of any kind relating to these operations and [UNHCR] reiterates its opposition to any action of expulsion at sea of migrants heading for the Italian coast.”
Click here (IT) for article.
[UPDATE: Click here and here for articles where Frattini clarifies he did not intend to suggest that UNHCR would be involved in the new agreement. The agreement in question is being referred to as a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in the Fight Against Illegal Immigration, Terrorism, Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking. (Un Memorandum d’ Intesa per la collaborazione nella lotta all’ immigrazione clandestina, al terrorismo, alla criminalità organizzata ed al traffico di stupefacenti.)
The First Chamber of the European Court of Justice issued a decision on 28 April ruling that the Italian law which punishes migrants who remain in Italy after being ordered to depart is precluded by EU Directive 2008/115 which established the procedure by which Member States may return illegally staying third country nationals. The ruling was made in the case of Hassen El Dridi alias Soufi Karim, Case C‑61/11 PPU, 28 April 2011.
The Italian law in question was enacted in 2009 as part of a “security package” (“pacchetto sicurezza”) of immigration laws and punishes the act of illegally staying in Italy after being ordered to depart with 1 to 4 years imprisonment. Italy has never transposed Directive 2008/115. The deadline for doing so was 24 December 2010.
The Court’s ruling was as follows:
“Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, in particular Articles 15 and 16 thereof, must be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed on an illegally staying third-country national on the sole ground that he remains, without valid grounds, on the territory of that State, contrary to an order to leave that territory within a given period.”
The Court suggested that penalties might be imposed by a Member State after the procedures required by the Directive had been exhausted: “[This] does not preclude the possibility for the Member States to adopt, with respect for the principles and objective of Directive 2008/115, provisions regulating the situation in which coercive measures have not resulted in the removal of a third-country national staying illegally on their territory.” Para. 60.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni criticised the decision saying that it risks making expulsions difficult or impossible. UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said that the ECJ decision was consistent and in harmony with what has already been expressed by the Italian courts, specifically the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, and expressed the hope that the EU Directive would soon be implemented.
Click here for ECJ Decision.
Click here for ECJ Press Release.
The ECJ Press Release provides a summary of the ruling; here are some excerpts from the ruling:
[Facts and Procedural Background]
18 Mr El Dridi is a third-country national who entered Italy illegally and does not hold a residence permit. A deportation decree was issued against him by the Prefect of Turin on 8 May 2004.
19 An order requiring his removal from the national territory, issued on 21 May 2010 by the Questore di Udine pursuant to that deportation decree, was notified to him on the same day….
20 A check carried out on 29 September 2010 revealed that Mr El Dridi had not complied with that removal order.
21 Mr El Dridi was sentenced at the conclusion of an expedited procedure by a single judge of the Tribunale di Trento (District Court, Trento) to one year’s imprisonment for the offence set out in Article 14(5b) of Legislative Decree No 286/1998.
22 He appealed against that decision before the Corte d’appello di Trento (Appeal Court, Trento).
[Referral of Questions to Court of Justice]
23 That [appeal] court is in doubt as to whether a criminal penalty may be imposed during administrative procedures concerning the return of a foreign national to his country of origin due to non-compliance with the stages of those procedures, since such a penalty seems contrary to the principle of sincere cooperation, to the need for attainment of the objectives of Directive 2008/115 and for ensuring the effectiveness thereof, and also to the principle that the penalty must be proportionate, appropriate and reasonable.
25 In those circumstances, the Corte d’appello di Trento … refer[ed] the following question to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:
‘In the light of the principle of sincere cooperation, the purpose of which is to ensure the attainment of the objectives of the directive, and the principle that the penalty must be proportionate, appropriate and reasonable, do Articles 15 and 16 of Directive 2008/115… preclude:
— the possibility that criminal penalties may be imposed in respect of a breach of an intermediate stage in the administrative return procedure, before that procedure is completed, by having recourse to the most severe administrative measure of constraint which remains available?
— the possibility of a sentence of up to four years’ imprisonment being imposed in respect of a simple failure to cooperate in the deportation procedure on the part of the person concerned, in particular where the first removal order issued by the administrative authorities has not been complied with?’
58 … the Member States may not, in order to remedy the failure of coercive measures adopted in order to carry out forced removal pursuant to Article 8(4) of [Directive 2008/115], provide for a custodial sentence, such as that provided for by Article 14(5b) of Legislative Decree No 286/1998, on the sole ground that a third-country national continues to stay illegally on the territory of a Member State after an order to leave the national territory was notified to him and the period granted in that order has expired; rather, they must pursue their efforts to enforce the return decision, which continues to produce its effects.
59 Such a penalty, due inter alia to its conditions and methods of application, risks jeopardising the attainment of the objective pursued by that directive, namely, the establishment of an effective policy of removal and repatriation of illegally staying third-country nationals. In particular, as observed by the Advocate General in point 42 of his View, national legislation such as that at issue in the main proceedings is liable to frustrate the application of the measures referred to in Article 8(1) of Directive 2008/115 and delay the enforcement of the return decision.
60 That does not preclude the possibility for the Member States to adopt, with respect for the principles and objective of Directive 2008/115, provisions regulating the situation in which coercive measures have not resulted in the removal of a third-country national staying illegally on their territory.
61 In the light of the foregoing, it will be for the national court, which is called upon, within the exercise of its jurisdiction, to apply and give full effect to provisions of European Union law, to refuse to apply any provision of Legislative Decree No 286/1998 which is contrary to the result of Directive 2008/115, including Article 14(5b) of that legislative decree (see, to that effect, Case 106/77 Simmenthal  ECR 629, paragraph 24; Case C-462/99 Connect Austria  ECR I-5197, paragraphs 38 and 40; and Joined Cases C‑188/10 and C‑189/10 Melki and Abdeli  ECR I-0000, paragraph 43). In so doing, the referring court will have to take due account of the principle of the retroactive application of the more lenient penalty, which forms part of the constitutional traditions common to the Member States (Joined Cases C‑387/02, C‑391/02 and C‑403/02 Berlusconi and Others  ECR I‑3565, paragraphs 67 to 69, and Case C‑420/06 Jager  ECR I‑1315, paragraph 59).
62 Consequently, the answer to the question referred is that Directive 2008/115, in particular Articles 15 and 16 thereof, must be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed on an illegally staying third-country national on the sole ground that he remains, without valid grounds, on the territory of that State, contrary to an order to leave that territory within a given period.
On those grounds, the Court (First Chamber) hereby rules:
Directive 2008/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2008 on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals, in particular Articles 15 and 16 thereof, must be interpreted as precluding a Member State’s legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed on an illegally staying third-country national on the sole ground that he remains, without valid grounds, on the territory of that State, contrary to an order to leave that territory within a given period.”
A boat carrying approximately 350 African migrants or asylum seekers from Libya has been intercepted and is being diverted to the Italian island of Linosa between Malta and Lampedusa. There have been reports over the past several days that the migrant boat was at sea. A Canadian navy ship, probably the frigate HMCS Charlottetown, first intercepted and boarded the migrant boat to determine whether the passengers required immediate rescue or not and to provide a pump. The migrant boat was allowed to proceed. An Italian navy helicopter later rescued a woman who gave birth on the boat. The woman, the newborn baby, the father, and a second pregnant woman were removed from the migrant boat and taken to hospitals on Lampedusa and Sicily. The Italian navy said that the migrant boat will be taken to Linosa rather than Lampedusa. UNHCR spokeswoman Laura Boldrini is quoted by AFP as saying that “[t]his is the first boat coming from Libya with people fleeing the military escalation, the vendettas and the retaliation attacks and that “the people on board the boat required ‘international protection’”. AFP also reported that “Mussie Zerai, an Eritrean Catholic priest in Italy who has been in direct contact with the vessel via a satellite phone, said conditions on the boat were extremely difficult with around 10 children and 20 women on board. He said the people were mostly Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalians.” Zerai also “said four or five other boats carrying African migrants had … left Libyan shores carrying around 1,000 people.”