The migrant hosting center in Palazzo San Gervasio in the province of Potenza | Photo: Archive ANSA / Press Office ASP Basilicata
The migrant hosting center in Palazzo San Gervasio in the province of Potenza | Photo: Archive ANSA / Press Office ASP Basilicata

A 30-year-old Ivorian citizen has filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights; asking for Italy to be condemned over the "inhuman and degrading conditions" in which he has been forced to live whilst working on the harvest.

A 30-year-old Ivorian man has filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights against Italy over the "inhuman and degrading conditions" in which he has been forced to live since arriving in Basilicata to take part in the harvest of agricultural products, his lawyer Angela Bitonti said on Tuesday, October 5, in Matera.

Bitonti represents the man together with Sonia Sommacal, an attorney in Belluno. The lawsuit claims the situation "harms fundamental rights like the one to life, health and dignity," Bitonti said.

"It is the first time a political refugee in Basilicata has filed a lawsuit with an international court like the ECHR," the lawyer explained.

Undignified conditions

After arriving in Basilicata, the Ivorian man found shelter in one of the "abandoned and dilapidated cottages" scattered around the area of Boreano, in Venosa (Potenza). Most of these buildings tend to host up to about 20 migrants and have no proper bathrooms or running water. There is waste everywhere which poses a risk to the health of those living there.

According to the lawsuit, the living conditions harm the human dignity of migrants. Earlier this year, a migrant shelter was opened in Palazzo San Gervasio in Potenza.

'Inefficient action' against gangmaster system

The cause of this situation - according to the lawsuit filed with the European Court - is "administrative action that has been undoubtedly ineffective" in implementing the objectives of the Italian state's plan to fight the gangmaster system.

Bitonti explained that the inability to eliminate "informal settlements" where migrants seek shelter makes any action taken to fight the gangmaster system inefficient. Moreover, the situation represents for many of the migrant workers a "violation of the right to life, health and a private life," because it forces them to live in "inhuman and degrading conditions." The lawsuit goes on to underline the fact that compared to Italian and other European seasonal agricultural workers, migrants working in the fields who come originally from Africa are being discriminated against.

 

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