Published by JLProject | 27 / Jun / 2023

The Italian Embassy loses the case against a refugee rejected in Libya, but does not respect the ruling.

A new terrible injustice. An Italian judge ordered the immediate entry into Italian territory of Harry, victim of the illegal refoulement Asso Ventinove, but the Italian embassy did not respond.

Last 10 June Harry, a Sudanese refugee victim of the illegal refoulement Asso Ventinove of 1-2 July 2018, won the case brought against part of the Italian government (Council of Ministers, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italian Embassy in Tripoli).

"The judge", says the judgment, "upholds the appeal and, as a result, declares the right of Mr HARRY (fictitious name) to apply for international protection in Italy and orders the competent administrations to issue all acts deemed necessary to allow his immediate entry into the territory of the Italian State".

La sentenza del giudice del Tribunale di Roma

It was a great victory for Harry, for his legal team (composed of lawyers Cristina Laura Cecchini, Loredana Leo, Giulia Crescini and Ginevra Maccarrone as part of ASGI's Sciabaca & Oruka project) and for the JLProject, a project of Mediterranea Saving Humans that has been following the boy for years and carried out the forensic investigation for his case.

"Harry has been in Libya for too many years," says the JLProject, "he has seen friends die, at sea, in Libyan camps and even at home in Sudan. He has suffered hunger, thirst, he can't take it anymore. He was illegally deported to Libya by an Italian ship, the Asso Ventinove, on orders from the Italian government. A gigantic (276 men, women and childrenə) deportation, which took place in secret, to hide the wrongdoing from the eyes of the world. We at the JLProject discovered the case in 2019, found evidence of its illegality, mourned the deaths that followed over the years (Josi and Seid, who died of starvation and disease in Libyan lagers, Amela, raped and murdered by a Libyan...), became even more attached to the survivors and tried to help them legally.

And then we won the first case.

Harry could be celebrating today the longed-for legal victory against the terrible injustice of the illegal refoulement he suffered five years ago. But instead he is suffering from a new atrocious injustice: the Italian Embassy in Tripoli is not responding to his lawyers' requests, thus ignoring the ruling of an Italian judge'.

Harry's lawyers let us know that the Italian Embassy in Tripoli, headed by Ambassador Gianluca Alberini, has not responded to the two different PECs sent.

The sentence is enforceable and Harry is entitled to take a scheduled plane from Tripoli to Rome. But unfortunately he does not have a passport, a condition common to the majority of refugeeə (Libyan lager guards steal money and documents from detainees). He only has the UNHCR document (refugee status), but this is not a travel document. The Italian Embassy in Tripoli lost the case and as a result of the ruling it must immediately issue a replacement document allowing Harry to board the plane. Yet it has not yet done so.

'We fear that the Embassy, in a blatantly unfair way, is trying to waste time,' denounces JLProject. 'Many, too many things could happen to Harry in Libya: he could be killed, starve to death. Perhaps the Embassy is hoping for a future appeal case overturning the first instance, we don't know. What is certain is that Harry today has the right to get on that plane immediately and leave the hell of Libya forever'.

ASGI's lawyers recall that "Externalisation policies empty the right to asylum by illegally rejecting and blocking people in Libya and other unsafe countries. This decision finally brings back to the centre the right to seek protection by entering Italian territory. The authorities of the ship's flag country and the authorities coordinating the operations have the specific task of demanding respect for the principle of non-refoulement and to act accordingly'.

The JLProject appeals to everyone to ask the Italian government for the immediate release of Harry's documents and hopes that the ongoing injustices suffered by this and so many other men, women and children in Libya will cease once and for all.

Photo credits: UNHCR

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