Record numbers this month. We have seen 1,536 people in total,
including 59 unaccompanied minors (9 of which were very small
children) and 46 women, some of whom were also pregnant. And these
numbers are not including those who were driven away by Red Cross or
police, or people who simply came at a time when we were not present.
We can officially declare any claim made by politicians or bureaucrats
that the situation has calmed, that very few people are being returned
to Italy, to be completely bogus.
Roughly 20 people were seen every two weeks aboard the deportation bus
destined for Taranto.
We had a few occasions in which more people than usual came to our
dinner distribution as well, sometimes over 100.
In the beginning of the month, Italian journalists came to the border,
on 4 occasions. They were all from different Italian TV channels,
reporting on pushbacks carried out by the French police. They demanded
the number of people and accounts of violence suffered, very insistent
and disrespectful of those present (consent, anonymity, not giving
people time to relax before speaking).
Unlike recent months, we saw many people new to Italy, some with no
finger prints in Europe at all.
Several minors met this month had never given a fingerprint in Europe.
They declared themselves to be minors to the PAF but were returned to
Italy with, as usual, a false date of birth written on the refusal of
entry. What was different this month however was that the Italian
police also register them in Italy with 4 fingerprints as an adult
based on the date written on the refusal of entry. This strikes us as
strange, given that the Italian police know full well that the French
police often write false ages in order to send back minors, which
actually makes more work for the Italian police.
A young woman from Nigeria who had been cared for in France as a minor
and has since turned 18 was supposed to return to France because she
had received a notification from the OFPRA granting her refugee
status. She went with a letter from her lawyer explaining the
situation, a copy of her old recepisse and a copy of her birth
certificate. She was sent back to Bardonnecchia, then to Menton. She
tried again with a copy of the OFPRA letter granting her refugee
status. The PAF still rejected her. She was not in possession of her
refusal of entry because it was in the evening and the military had
collected it. It was therefore impossible to challenge the refusal of
entry. We went down together to request a copy of the refusal of entry
from the Italian police but the officer just told us that he did not
know where it was because the team that had collected them had already
We have met many people who have been deported from other countries,
like Germany, Austria, Belgium, or Luxembourg. Some of those who have
been deported from other countries didn’t spend much time in Italy
before at all, but had fingerprints immediately taken in Lampedusa
upon arrival, and spent much more time in a different country building
a life before being deported to a place they know very little about.
Detentions were sometimes again extremely long; some have claimed as
long as 24 hours. The Italian police now do not always give the
invitation paper to the questura, which was very useful to compare the
arrest time by the French police to their time of release by the
Italian police. At the moment detentions are sometimes very long (from
19:45 to 14:00, from 7:00 to 16:00, from 20:45 to 15:15) but are
harder to prove without the Italian paper.
Pretty much every day we are receiving reports of violence and theft
by the French police: incidents of being insulted, slapped, or pepper
sprayed in closed spaces are common. Some have had several hundred
euros missing when they have their affects returned to them, or not
gotten their phone back, or been refused to be allowed to gather their
belongings before being taken into French police custody. Some people
were denied access to medication, for conditions such as diabetes and
congenital heart problems.
As well this month, two young Moroccans
were severely beaten by 9 French police officers in the back of a
container. People from us as well as Amnesty witnessed their screams
and saw as they emerged covered in bruises. We accompanied them to the
hospital, listened as they recounted how the police forced them to
crawl on the ground and other degrading behaviours, and recorded an
extremely detailed account in order for them to make a complaint. It’s
the most violent and detailed story we’ve ever heard.
As well if you have a spare week or more, please contact us, we need volunteers!
Please share and talk about what is happening to create awareness. Make a change and keep fighting the authorities!
Love and Solidarity!
Picture from Dan Archer