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Italy

    August 08, 2019

    More than 30 children, including two babies, and nearly 90 men and women stranded at sea in searing temperatures, must be immediately allowed to dock, said Amnesty International, as the stand-off between the Italian, Maltese and Spanish authorities and a NGO rescue ship enters its second week.

    Despite mounting concerns for their well-being, Italian and Maltese authorities are refusing a port where they could safely be disembarked. Spanish authorities have yet to formally request help from European institutions to mediate a solution.

    “After a week stranded at sea in blistering heat, these women, men and children who have risked their lives to escape human rights abuses in Libya should be immediately disembarked either in Malta or Italy,” said Maria Serrano, Amnesty International’s Senior Researcher on Migration.

    “Despite mounting concerns for the well-being of those on board, politicians are shamelessly breaching their responsibilities under international law by refusing to grant a safe port to people who could face torture if returned to Libya and who are exhausted and in need of protection and care.”

    November 20, 2018

    Responding to reports that Médecins Sans Frontiers have today that Italy has ordered the seizure of the search and rescue ship, Aquarius, for alleged illegal waste treatment, Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty UK's Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director, said:

    “This appears to be the latest effort to discredit the vital search-and-rescue operations by charities and volunteers in the central Mediterranean, in a shameless attempt to offer justification for the deliberate blocking of this life-saving work.

    “The Aquarius has reportedly rescued more than 30,000 women, men and children over a period of more than two years. People’s lives are now being lost in greater numbers because governments have stopped the Aquarius, and other charitable organisations, operating at sea.”

    For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English)
    W: 613-744-7667 ext. 236
    lscholey@amnesty.ca

    September 24, 2018

    Responding to news that the Panama Maritime Authority revoked the registration of the search and rescue ship, Aquarius, operated by SOS Mediterranée and Médecins Sans Frontières, reportedly after pressure from the Italian government, Elisa di Pieri Amnesty International’s Europe Researcher said:

    “After closing its ports and seizing NGO ships, it now appears that Italian authorities have resorted to even more underhand tactics to curtail the life-saving work of NGO search and rescue ships in the central Mediterranean.

    “If it is confirmed that Panama’s decision to revoke the registration of the Aquarius was made as a result of pressure brought to bear by the Italian government, this would be a new low in Italy’s crackdown against those saving lives at sea.

    “The Aquarius has reportedly rescued more than 30,000 people over a period of more than two years. Deliberately depleting resources for saving lives in the central Mediterranean will expose thousands of people to the risk of a watery grave.

    June 12, 2018

    As the SOS Mediterranee rescue ship, MV Aquarius, heads to the Spanish port of Valencia, Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International’s Italy Researcher said:

    “By closing their ports the Italian and Maltese governments are trampling the principle of rescue at sea and undermining the entire search and rescue system. If allowed to go unchallenged, it will discourage and compromise the lifesaving work of NGO’s leaving thousands of migrants and refugees adrift in the Mediterranean.

    “Whilst the offer by the Spanish government to welcome the Aquarius is a moving example of solidarity, it also highlights the calculated callousness of the Italian and Maltese authorities. This sets a precedent that will inevitably cost lives.”

    For more information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    Background

    June 11, 2018

    As the SOS Mediterranee rescue ship, MV Aquarius remains stranded between Malta and Sicily with 629 people aboard including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and seven pregnant women, Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International’s Italy Researcher said:

    “By closing their ports, Italy and Malta have not only turned their backs on more than 600 desperate and vulnerable people but also on their obligations under international law.

    “The men, women and children aboard the Aquarius have risked their lives on perilous seas to escape horrific abuses in Libya only to find themselves caught in an unconscionable political stand-off between two European states.

    “Keeping NGO boats at sea waiting for a port means that fewer rescue ships are available to assist people who may be in distress right now.

    “While Italy and Malta must open their ports, other EU countries must share the responsibility for offering protection, rescues and asylum-processing.”

    Background

    March 19, 2018

    Following yesterday’s seizure of a Spanish NGO rescue boat by the Italian authorities and the investigation of its crew for "criminal conspiracy aimed at facilitating illegal immigration” after they refused to hand over to the Libyan Coast Guard refugees and migrants rescued in international waters over 70 nautical miles off the Libyan coast, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for Europe, Fotis Filippou said:

    “By requesting the Libyan coastguard to coordinate rescue and then impounding the NGO ship that refused to hand over the refugees and migrants, the Italian authorities have shown a reckless disregard for common decency. Rather than being criminalized for trying to save refugees and migrants who have fled horrific detention conditions and systematic human rights abuses in Libya, NGOs saving lives at seashould be supported.

    “The Italian authorities are once more revealing where their true priorities lie: namely shutting off the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused. This appears to mark yet another step towards the outsourcing to the Libyan Coast Guard of the patrolling of the central Mediterranean.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    July 31, 2017
      ·         Spokespeople available on the ground   Proposals to send warships to police Libyan territorial waters are a shameful attempt by the Italian authorities to circumvent their duty to rescue refugees and migrants at sea and to offer protection to those who need it, said Amnesty International, ahead of a vote in the Italian parliament tomorrow.   Under the plan up to six vessels would be deployed to support the Libyan coastguard in the interception and return of refugees and migrants to Libya, where they would face horrific abuses and human rights violations. Italian military personnel are likely to be authorized to use force against smugglers and traffickers, and the plan could also result in refugees and migrants being caught in the crossfire.   “Rather than sending ships to help save lives and offer protection to desperate refugees and migrants, Italy is planning to deploy warships to push them back to Libya,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director John Dalhuisen.  
    March 24, 2017

    Ahead of the sixtieth anniversary of the Rome Treaty, Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office has called for Europe to uphold its founding principles of the protection and promotion of human rights:

     “At this key juncture in its history, it is vital that leaders recall and recommit to the EU’s founding spirit of protecting human dignity even in dark times. As they celebrate the past and plot the way for the future, a strong joint stance on the importance of human rights is imperative.

    “The EU’s response to the challenges of the global refugee crisis, countering terrorism and to the global crackdown on human rights defenders have left many questioning its commitment to human rights in practice. At this cross roads, EU leaders must recall its founding principles and commit to upholding them. Reeling in those member states that are flagrantly violating their EU Treaty obligations on human rights would be an obvious and good place to start”.

     

     

    November 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 November 2016

     

    The European Union’s pressure on Italy to “get tough” on refugees and migrants has led to unlawful expulsions and ill-treatment which in some cases may amount to torture, a new report from Amnesty International revealed today.

    Beatings, electric shocks and sexual humiliation are among the numerous allegations of abuse documented in Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights. The report demonstrates how the EU-sponsored ‘hotspot approach’ for processing refugees and migrants at the point of arrival is not only undermining their right to claim asylum but has fuelled appalling abuse.

    “In their determination to reduce the onward movement of refugees and migrants to other member states, EU leaders have driven the Italian authorities to the limits – and beyond – of what is legal,” said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Italy. 

    June 09, 2015

    An Italian court ruling that the Municipality of Rome acted unlawfully by forcibly relocating Romani families to an ethnically segregated camp is a landmark step towards ending the discrimination faced by Romani people in Italy, said Amnesty International.

    The judgement, revealed by the complainants at a joint press conference in Rome today, found that making Roma live in the ethnically segregated La Barbuta camp constituted discriminatory treatment. Amnesty International said that the judgment should mark the beginning of a process to dismantle housing segregation faced by Roma across the country.

    “Making Roma people live in a segregated camp in a remote and inaccessible site not only pushes them to the margins of society but has now been proven to be unlawful,” said Elisa De Pieri, Amnesty International’s Italy Researcher.

    April 19, 2015

    The latest capsizing of a boat carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean – with hundreds of people feared dead – is a man-made tragedy that could well have been avoided, Amnesty International said.

    A boat able to carry hundreds of refugees and migrants – according to the Italian coast guard - capsized this morning off the Libyan coast. The boat had sent a request for help to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which requested a Portuguese merchant vessel to attend the call.

    So far, 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies have been recovered, according to the coast guard. A rescue operation is currently ongoing with 17 ships involved as well as aircrafts.

    “What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean is a man-made tragedy of appalling proportions. These latest deaths at sea come as a shock, but not a surprise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    February 16, 2015

    The European Union’s limited search and rescue resources contributed to the soaring death toll after four rubber dinghies carrying hundreds of migrants sent out an SOS in stormy weather in the southern Mediterranean last week, Amnesty International revealed today after a visit to Lampedusa.

    Following the tragedy that claimed more than 300 lives, an Amnesty International research team carried out interviews, in Rome and Lampedusa, with survivors, members of the Italian coastguard and local authorities.

    When the distress call came in on Sunday 8 February, the main vessel used in the pan-EU border management operation Triton was docked hundreds of kilometres away in Malta for maintenance. The large military vessels used in Italy’s now-defunct Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation were also out of use and docked even farther away in Sicily.

    February 11, 2015

    The European Union and its member states must hang their heads in shame following reports this morning that as many as 300 migrants are believed to have died in the high seas off the Italian island of Lampedusa, said Amnesty International.

    “This new tragedy realizes our worst fears about the end of Italy’s Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation and exposes the predictable consequences of the European Union’s failure to provide an adequate replacement,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The humanitarian crisis that sparked the need for Mare Nostrum has not gone away. With people continuing to flee war and persecution, EU member states must stop burying their heads in the sand whilst hundreds keep dying at sea.”

    August 26, 2014

    By Maxim Tucker, Press Officer – Global Campaigns, Thematic Issues and UN.

    (BORGO MEZZANONE, ITALY) Ebrima’s bedroom is a stark corrugated square, five metres long and five metres wide. He shares it with one other asylum seeker – each has a foam mattress over a camp bed to sleep on. Wires dangle from a broken light in the ceiling and the floor is carpeted in dust, crumbs and the odd seashell.

    The Asylum Seekers Reception Centre at Borgo Mezzanone, Southern Italy, has been his home for the past six months. In this disused airbase which was turned into a detention centre, conditions are dire. But after a harrowing journey from Africa, through the Sahara and across the Mediterranean, Ebrima doesn’t even seem to notice. He is happy to be here.

    He tells me his journey started in Sierra Leone after the death of his Muslim father. The Christian community where he lived wanted him gone. Even his stepmother’s family tried to force him to convert from Islam to Christianity.

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