Press conference: Italy, the EU and their deal with Sudan to combat migration | 14 February 5.30pm
14 February | 5:00 – 5:30 PM
Dario Bellucio, lawyer, ASGI
Cornelia Ernst, DIE LINKE
Josu Juaristi, EH Bildu
Joao Pimenta Lopes, Partido Comunista Português
Marie Christine Vergiat, Front de gauche
The reasons behind GUE/NGL MEPs’ visit to Sudan were based on the numerous press articles which drew attention to the impact of the EU pressure on Sudan to control its borders. In particular, reports on the rise in the arrests of Eritreans in Khartoum and at the Libyan border, followed by returns to Eritrea amidst claims by the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) (formerly known as the “janjaweed” force accused of genocide in Darfur) that they had been tasked by the government to control the Northern border and would receive funding and equipment from the EU in return for performing their duty.
Alerted by these reports, four GUE/NGL MEPs travelled to Khartoum on 19-22 December 2016 on a GUE/NGL Delegation to closely examine the EU’s increased partnership with Sudan in the framework of the Khartoum process, the Africa Trust Fund and the new ‘Migration partnerships’. The specific aims of the delegation were to:
– Look into the EU’s increased cooperation with Sudan in the area of border control and migration;
– Look at the implementation of the Italian bilateral police cooperation agreement, notably in the field of return by enabling some of the Sudanese returned illegally on 24-08-2016 from Italy to meet with their lawyers who had accompanied the delegation;
– Assess the situation of Eritrean refugees in Sudan, including arrests and returns to Eritrea;
– Look into the use of EU funds notably the EU Africa Trust Fund for migration control.
A direct outcome of the GUE/NGL Delegation has been the filing today (13th February 2017) of an appeal in front of the European Court of Human Rights by five Sudanese citizens from Darfur who had been expelled by Italy on 24th August 2016. The appeal was made possible with the help of the complainants’ lawyers, Dario Belluccio (ASGI, www.asgi.it) and Salvatore Fachile (ARCI, www.arci.it) – members of Tavolo Asilo – who had joined the GUE/NGL Delegation to Khartoum.
The appeal asked the Court to inquire into the illegitimate action by the Italian government in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights, and to demand compensation on behalf of the victims of this expulsion.
All these are a direct result of the bilateral police agreement signed on 3rd August 2016 between the head of the Italian Police – Franco Gabrielli – and his Sudanese counterpart. This was one of the many administrative agreements signed by Italy in order to simplify and accelerate the readmission procedures of third country citizens who are considered to be in an irregular situation.
The Italian State, through this police operation, wanted to show that the agreement was working and had organised an operation to arrest around 60 Sudanese citizens in Vintimille. Thankfully, some of these refugees – either by chance or with the help of activists – did not board the flight to Khartoum in the end. It is important to note that that all of them have since been recognised by Italy as refugees in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention.
The appeal to the European Court of Human Rights underlines the following violations:
Article 3 of the ECHR – as it is recognised that Sudan systematically submits its citizens to an inhumane and degrading treatment, in particular those from the region of Darfur ;
Article 4 of the Additional Protocol of the ECHR, in relation also to article 14 of the ECHR, as it relates to a collective expulsion carried out with discriminatory means, without any individual examination of the situation of each complainant, specifically aimed at a group of Sudanese citizens ;
Article 13 of the ECHR as the persons who have been returned did not have the possibility to have the right to effective remedy in front of an Italian court to ask for a suspension of the expulsion;
Article 4 of protocole 4 combined with Article 13, as Italy does not foresee the suspensive effect of an appeal in case of an expulsion order.