Ital­ian po­lice ‘tor­tured mi­grants’

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A lead­ing hu­man rights group has ac­cused Ital­ian po­lice of us­ing vi­o­lent tac­tics to fin­ger­print mi­grants.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said it had 24 ac­counts of ill treat­ment, in­clud­ing beat­ings and elec­tric shocks.

There was no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions from Italy, which has al­ways said it treats mi­grants with pro­fes­sion­al­ism and care.

Many ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants are re­luc­tant to be fin­ger­printed, fear­ing they will not be able to leave Italy.

EU law says mi­grants must stay in the first coun­try they reach - de­ter­mined by where they give their fin­ger­prints.

Amnesty said the be­hav­iour of most Ital­ian po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved was pro­fes­sional but it called for an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the al­le­ga­tions.

“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,” the or­gan­i­sa­tion said.

The re­port quoted a man named as Adam, a 27-year-old from Dar­fur in Su­dan, who said he had been beaten and sub­jected to elec­tric shocks be­fore be­ing made to strip naked.

A 25-year-old woman from Eritrea said she had been slapped re­peat­edly in the face by a policeman un­til she agreed to be fin­ger­printed, and a 16-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man said po­lice had ap­plied pain to their gen­i­tals.

The older man said: “I was on a chair made of alu­minium, with an open­ing on the seat. They held my shoul­ders and legs, took my tes­ti­cles with the pli­ers, and pulled twice. I can’t say how painful it was.”

Mat­teo de Bel­lis, Amnesty’s Re­searcher on Italy, said that mi­grants had been sub­jected to “ap­palling abuse”.

“I have gath­ered con­sis­tent tes­ti­monies of peo­ple who told me how they were beaten, slapped, but even elec­tro­cuted by means of stun ba­tons, peo­ple who have been threat­ened, peo­ple who have been ar­bi­trar­ily de­tained just to force them to give their fin­ger­prints,” he said.

Mr de Bel­lis said Amnesty had sent its re­port to the Ital­ian in­te­rior min­is­ter and had asked for a re­sponse to the al­le­ga­tions but had not re­ceived a re­ply.

Amnesty crit­i­cised the EU’s so-called “hotspot” ap­proach - de­signed to iden­tify and fin­ger­print new ar­rivals to front-line EU coun­tries such as Italy - say­ing it had led to vi­o­la­tions of mi­grants’ rights.

“The hotspot ap­proach, de­signed in Brus­sels and ex­e­cuted in Italy, has increased, not de­creased, the pres­sure on front-line states,” said Mr de Bel­lis.

“It is re­sult­ing in ap­palling vi­o­la­tions of the rights of des­per­ately vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple,”

More than 150,000 mi­grants have been res­cued from the Mediter­ranean and taken to Italy so far this year and more than 470,000 have reached the coun­try by boat over the past three years.

Many thou­sands have died mak­ing the cross­ing, in­clud­ing at least 3,750 this year alone.

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