05. Juni 2013 · Kommentare deaktiviert für Italien, Bericht über italienische Abschiebeknäste, NYT 05.06.2013 · Kategorien: Italien · Tags:

„New York Times“, 05.06.2013

„Italy’s Migrant Detention Centers Are Cruel, Rights Groups Say

by Elisabetta Povoledo

ROME — The Identification and Expulsion Center, a detention complex on the outskirts of Rome where illegal immigrants can be held for months before deportation, is not a prison. But the difference seems mostly a question of semantic

Tall metal fences separate rows of drab low-lying barracks into individual units that are locked down at night, when the concrete courtyards are lit bright as day. There are security cameras. Some guards wear riot gear. Detainees can move around in designated areas during the day, but they are forced to wear slippers, or shoes without laces, so as not harm themselves or others. After a revolt in the men’s section, sharp objects — including pens, pencils and combs — were banned.

The center, in the suburb of Ponte Galeria, is one of 11 in Italy used to hold people — some who have lived in Italy for years — who lack working or residence permits, or whose papers have expired. The authorities say that the centers are essential to better regulate illegal immigration and that they comply with European Union guidelines.

Violent outbursts have become a defining feature. After a change in Italian law in 2011, those found to be residing illegally in Italy can now be detained as long as 18 months, in compliance with E.U. law, while their status is resolved. Since the change in the law, the authorities acknowledge, riots and attempts at escape have become more common.

The length of detention and the conditions at the centers differ from country to country, but “Italy is not unique with having criticism and problems in running these facilities,” said Michael Flynn, the founder and coordinator of the Global Detention Project, based in Geneva.

In Malta, migrants can be detained for 12 months, and then released into the community “as a matter of course,” said Philip Amaral, advocacy and communications coordinator for the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe, based in Brussels. “So why bother detaining them?”

In Britain, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford has raised similar questions about the usefulness of detention. Spain has been criticized for housing migrants in tents; the Netherlands for keeping them on houseboats.

By virtue of its long coastline and proximity to North Africa, Italy faces a special predicament, however. With the chaos of the Arab Spring in 2011, the number of people who crossed the Mediterranean to Italy swelled to 62,000. The numbers have since dropped significantly. Last year, 13,200 made the crossing, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration. In the first three months of 2013, about 1,500 had crossed.

Beyond the human rights issues, “the fact that you detain does not deter people from coming,” Mr. Flynn said. “If that is the public policy goal,” he added, “it is not working well.”

Despite such criticism, Italy’s centers, which are managed by private companies, have become “indispensable,” according to a 2013 Interior Ministry report. The report nonetheless acknowledged several problems, including the “total absence of activities inside the centers,” which “leads to an increase in aggressiveness and malaise, and has increased the tension between immigrants and police.”

The report called for a reform of the system, possibly putting all the centers under single management, with the aim of standardizing their quality and making them more cost effective. Government officials also say that the process would be more streamlined if foreign consulates cooperated more promptly in identifying detainees for deportation.

To reduce the “not-infrequent” outbursts of violence, the Interior Ministry report recommended isolating the perpetrators “for brief periods of time.”

Rights groups said the recommendation was a step in the wrong direction.

“The conclusion comes down to increasing the repression,” said Piero Soldini, who oversees the immigration department for the Italian General Confederation of Labor, a left-leaning trade union. “Our challenge is instead to demonstrate that we can do without them.”

Whatever the view of the centers, there is no doubt that they amount to a life of limbo. The “guests,” as they are officially known, are often bewildered by their predicament. Research by the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe found that in centers around the Continent, detainees “primarily suffer mentally, severe, psychological stress from not knowing when the detention will end,” Mr. Amaral said. It is worse, he said, than imprisonment, which has a fixed term.

Some come directly from prison, too, once they have served sentences. Former inmates say the added stay amounts to an unfair extension of their sentences.

“I waited for five years to be released,” from prison “and then I found myself locked away again,” said a 40-year-old Tunisian man who was being held at the Ponte Galeria center and did not want to be identified.

[…] “


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