[ 07. Mar 2009 ]

Detention camps in Malta and Lampedusa : Revolts of desperation

Solidarity protest in front on Italian Embassy, London, 26. Feb 2009

A revolt movement has exploded on the 18th of February 2009, in the overcrowded detention centre for migrants on Lampedusa island (South Europe), is not only the result of unacceptable conditions wherein are detained its occupants. Migreurop press release, 05. Mar2009


It is in line with Italian government which makes a tool of migration issues, since it takes office. It praises xenophobic reflexes of a part of the population, in order to justify adoption of securitarian measures. Packing several hundreds migrants in a centre, initially realised for short term transit ; harming daily their dignity ; violating unashamedly their rights which are recognized by law, in particular regarding to asylum seekers ; sending back by force people who could be subjected to violences or tortures at their arrivals ; authorities fuel deliberately detainees distress and exasperation, of which testify numbers of attempted suicides. In the same time, authorities are looking for stir up discontentment of local population. To date, Lampedusa inhabitants have known how to resist to this provocation.

In Malta, another island of Mediterranean sea, the detention centre for migrants of Hal Far was on fire after a revolt on the 19th of February 2009. As well as Lampedusa, ill-treatments, in overcrowded detention centres, are the rule in this country ; like endless length of detention and regardless of laws and international conventions on fundamental rights. But, in Malta, detention centre's fire has begun with a background of exacerbated hostility towards migrants, hostility meticulously kept, even encouraged, by Maltese authorities.

Those despair expressions are also the effect of countries of origin and transit complicity which, in the name of « joint management »of migratory flows, profit from their collaboration to the European Union (EU) bloody policy of borders protection. After Morocco or Senegal, today, it is Tunisia, which has signed, in the end of January 2009, an agreement with Italy in order to accept repatriation of 500 Tunisians who are detained in Lampedusa, before the end of March 2009. It does not matter if they are sent back to Gafsa region, where working-class protestation movements against social injustice, have recently been subjected to violent repressions, like arrests and tortures acts. It is also the case of Libya, whose EU has offered 20 billions Euro to help to struggle migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, participating notably, to maritime interception patrols of boat people. Despite refugees who would look for international protection in Europe.

Finally, Malta and Lampedusa events are the result of EU hypocrisy, which attends without turning a hair to obvious, well known and recurrent illegalities, which are committed on its territory. While EU acquired laws which impose to all Member States reception conditions for asylum seekers, while its Parliament has just, in two new resolutions, said its concern with regard to increasing number of detention centres for migrants and rights violations which are committed there, while Member States get involved by international rules in terms of human rights protection, like the 1950 European convention which prohibits inhuman and degrading treatments and mass deportation, EU lets flout those principles without step in.

Rather than anticipates reasons of departure which throw in Mediterranean sea thousands of oppression and misery victims, EU prefers to entrust these buffer territories, which are Mediterranean islands, with the role of arrival deterrence, in the most violent manner.

As the threatening 'return directive', migrants camps testify the Europe inability to face the incontrovertible reality of migration. By doing so, The EU takes the risk, not only to renounce its principles, but also to prepare next revolts of desperation : it has already exploded in Milan and Turin, like Bordeaux and Vincennes few months ago.

It is more than urgent to finish with inhuman conditions of migrants detention, in Malta and Lampedusa and in every detention places where people rights are flouted.