The ‘state of emergency’ declared in the wake of the Arab Spring ends in four months time, but Italy is still failing in the basics of migration control and management. Despite international criticism, controversial push-back agreements have not been buried with the legacies of Berlusconi and Gaddafi, says Nina Perkowski
The renewed arrivals of migrant boats in Lampedusa this month caused considerable agitation in Italy. Former Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni made clear that collective expulsions at sea – a common practice during his term of office – were the solution to this ‘invasion’. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would disagree: it condemned Italy earlier this year for having violated migrants’ human rights when conducting expulsions at sea. Roberto Maroni is not in power anymore, yet his willingness to openly call for the reintroduction of practices that have been deemed illegal as a response to a few hundred people arriving on Lampedusa is indicative of a deeper crisis in Italy: the country’s unwillingness to respect the human rights and dignity of those arriving from abroad. This unwillingness is evidenced in the ongoing legacy of controversial pushback agreements, and in the reception conditions for asylum seekers which remain critically flawed.