Last June, the Sea-Watch was blocked at sea with 42 people aboard due to the "closed ports" policy of former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini | Photo: ANSA/TWITTER/SEA WATCH
Last June, the Sea-Watch was blocked at sea with 42 people aboard due to the "closed ports" policy of former Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini | Photo: ANSA/TWITTER/SEA WATCH

Italy's guarantor for the rights of detainees said that rescue ships must also be seen as places where people are deprived of their freedom, when the migrants aboard have to wait for a long time for a place to dock.

Italy's guarantor for the rights of detainees, Mauro Palma, said for migrants, places that deprive them of their freedom are not just prisons. They include hotspots and ships "upon which migrants are held, in limbo, sometimes for a long time, waiting for a landing place, which is the true conclusion of the rescue operation by those who picked them up at sea." 

Palma made these remarks during a masterclass he held at the Rome Tre University, where he received an honorary law degree. 

Hotspots a place of detention 

Palma said hotspots and ships, "where freedom is compressed and in fact deprived" are new places of detention. 

Palma said the hotspots are "structures that are formally hubs, not destined to receive and host people, but only to provide for their quick registration and identification so they can then be sent to other structures." 

"Instead, migrants often remain there, restricted, detained, without any jurisdictional protection: an additional material and juridical limbo," Palma said. 

Guarantor must monitor respect of dignity 

"The European Court of Human Rights has recognized... that even measures adopted for the protection of people or taken in their interests can de facto represent a deprivation of freedom," he said. 

Because of this, places such as hotspots and rescue vessels must be subject to visits and oversight by institutions such as the guarantor for the rights of detainees, Palma argued. That's because it's their task "to ensure that the physical integrity and dignity of people held for various reasons are respected and their rights are concretely protected." 
 

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