Italy’s post-Lampedusa problem

Following the sinking of a ship containing about 500 immigrants from Africa off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Italian immigration law has been slightly amended. Pandeia compares the student journalists of Rome and Milan’s reactions to the developing of the news.

In the wake of tragedy, of any tragedy, politicians in Italy are full of good words, but take little action. Enrica Marturana expresses her frustration at the political response to the Lampedusa shipwreck on UnInformato:

“I saw suffering and pain […] what happened in Lampedusa is a tragedy unprecedented in the Mediterrean sea,” affirmed Prime Minister Enrico Letta after landing on the island.

On 9 October, 2013, Letta, along with President of the European Commission Jose Barroso, Minister of Internal Affairs Alfano, European commissioner for Internal Affairs Malmstrom arrived in Lampedusa: to do what? Mostly to watch, comment, upload pictures on Twitter. Actually, they also prayed, talked about a State funeral, a Frontex operation for “a safe rescue” of migrants from Cyprus to Spain, a task force between Italy and the EU Commission, a European summit on 24 October with the intention of adding to the agenda the issue of migration, which is not only an Italian, but a European one.

In the past few years, however, it seemed a problem that only particularly concerned the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa. The refugee centres, in fact, have for a long time been in critical conditions: they do not receive any funds and they do not have sufficient size or resources to welcome those who arrive, who keep on coming.

The numbers of victims […] keeps on growing faster, like a heartbeat before stopping for good, with the cries of those who stay, who are forced to watch and try to help, echoing in the background. “Murders,” “ Shame on you!” – was written on banners in Lampedusa, – “an island full of pain, carrying the weight of the world’s indifference.”

Partially aggravating the situation is the Italian immigration law called “Bossi-Fini,” which takes its name from its creators, the Minister for Institutional Reforms and Deputy Prime Minister respectively, at the time Berlusconi’s second government (2001-2006). Tamara Mancini of Orizzonte Universitario explains exactly what is wrong with the law.

The law “Bossi-Fini” allows for the criminal prosecution of those who help illegal immigrants at sea: thus what happened in Lampedusa is also a political wreck.

This is a law with ‘license to kill’. In 2007, two fishermen who helped in saving 44 victims of a shipwreck coming from Africa were prosecuted under suspicion of human trafficking. After a first trial, they were condemned to forty days in prison, along with the seizure of their boats and the work tools through which they made their living. The law thus condemns innocent people. Their only fault is leaving their roots, their countries, and their families behind, to escape a terrible reality for a better life.

The “Bossi-Fini” law does not even want them to touch Italian soil, as if these immigrants/refugees were threatening to ruin our supposed wealth.

People die because of European and individual indifference of those who are selfishly busy protecting their own interests. It is a policy of hate, a policy insulting those who are brave enough to escape misery, insulting the dead in Lampedusa, insulting human dignity, and Italians too, who have a history (and a present) of migration that it is too often forgotten.

Since then, a small yet significant change has been made to the law, as described in another piece on UnInformato, by Alessio Marra.

The Senate decided to abolish the crime of illegal migration, through the approval of an amendment proposed by senators Andrea Buccarella and Maurizio Cioffi.

The text of the amendment, which would modify the infamous “Bossi-Fini” law, dictates the abolition of fines over what has been so far considered a penal offense, even if the ones regarding a civil offence remains. This will now be punished with an order for expatriation, but no longer with incarceration. The decision was motivated primarily by administrative reasons: in fact, it was agreed that the introduction of the penal offense only caused an increase in the law infringements in the country, exactly what the previous law tried to remedy.

It also emerged that the fines provided by the “Bossi-Fini,” demanded from people who actually have nothing, were ineffective, and so were the high number of detentions, which have only slowed down the justice process in the country. The amendment could represent a change for Italy, if more consistent reforms concerning the organisation of immigration and justice followed.

However, as one problem may be close to a solution, another one emerges. This, which is perhaps indicative of the situation of our country in every aspect, is the disinformation and little interest of Italian citizens over matters that concern them, even if only indirectly.

Edited and Translated by Sofia Lotto Persio

Original Articles: 

Tamara Mancini, “Bossi-Fini, la legge che uccide.” Orizzonte Universitario

Alessio Marra, “Lampedusa e il reato di immigrazione clandestina.” UnInformato,

Enrica Marturana, “Lampedusa, L’isola che non c’è (per l’Europa).” UnInformato is currently looking for crowdfunding sources to publish the March and April issues. Find more info here



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