Five Eritrean citizens arrived in Italy on Sunday after the Court of Rome recognized their right to apply for asylum. In 2009, Italy had rescued the migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and illegally sent them back to Libya.
Five Eritrean citizens arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Sunday after the Court of Rome recognized their right to enter the country by issuing a visa allowing them to apply for international protection.
In 2009, the migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea by the Italian Navy, but then Italy illegally sent them back to Libya.
The news was released in a statement by Amnesty International Italia and the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), who celebrated the development, calling the migrants’ return to Italy “exceptionally symbolic”.
Ruling judged historic
The five Eritreans were part of a group of 89 migrants and asylum seekers whom Italian authorities took back to Libya. There, the migrants were once again exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment, violence, and torture, said the associations.
Sixteen of the migrants, all Eritrean citizens, crossed Egypt and the Sinai Desert and arrived in Israel, where for about 10 years “they were blocked in the country, where their right to apply for asylum was not respected”, the associations said.
On June 25, 2016, they filed legal action in the Rome Civil Court against the Italian president’s office and the Italian foreign, defence, and interior ministries.
On November 28, 2019, the court ruled that their pushback had been illegal, and it ordered they be issued an entrance visa to allow them to apply for international protection. The ruling also sentenced Italian authorities to compensation for damages.
Amnesty International and ASGI said the ruling sets a historic precedent, in that it establishes for the first time in an Italian court the right of someone who isn’t physically present in Italy to apply for asylum there. One of the five Eritreans who landed at Fiumicino said, “We’re happy to be here”.
“We once again have faith in the justice system and we hope that we will receive the protection we need,” he said. Another three migrants to arrive in coming months Cristina Laura Cecchino and Salvatore Fachile, attorneys with ASGI, said that with the ruling, “Finally, legal value has been restored to the obligations of protection set forth in Article 10 of the Italian Constitution. This arrival represents an important precedent.”
Ilaria Masinara, campaign manager on migration and discrimination for Amnesty International Italia, also applauded the ruling.
“Five Eritrean asylum seekers arrived in our country in the safest and most legal way possible, which should be guaranteed to all who are forced to flee their countries due to conflicts, political persecution, and other violations of human rights,” Masinara said.
After a period of quarantine, the five Eritreans will be able to begin the procedure to ask Italy for recognition of international protection. In the coming months, three other migrants who are currently being supported by the NGO Assaf are expected to arrive. ()