The Italian Senate has lifted the immunity of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for the second time this year in the dispute over the rescue of refugees. This clears the way for a further trial against the party leader of the fascist Lega. The reason for this is a procedure for deprivation of liberty and abuse of office. A year ago, as Minister of the Interior, Salvini had the private Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” with dozens of refugees on board blocked for almost three weeks at sea.
As early as February of this year, the Senate had overturned Salvini’s immunity in a similar case. At that time it was about blocking the “Gregoretti” coast guard ship with 131 refugees. This process should start on October 3rd. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison and a temporary ban on politics.
While Salvini is instrumentalizing the process for his career, new reports appear daily about the poor conditions in refugee accommodation, such as the mass exodus of refugees from the corona quarantine. Sicily and Lampedusa are particularly affected. On the Pelagian island, 184 refugees had fled their accommodation on Sunday because of unsustainable conditions, the news agency reported ANSA. There are only 95 places for newly arriving refugees – most recently 726 came to Lampedusa. It doesn’t look better in Porto Empedocle in Sicily. There were 520 people in a tent that could accommodate 100 people, without windows, crammed together.
The mayor of the city, Ida Carmina, showed understanding: The migrants had fled because “suffocating death and suffocation threatened them in the unbearable heat and confines”. The politician of the “Five Star Movement” (M5S) called on the government and the European Commission to act. Italy’s independent minister of the interior, Luciana Lamorgese, wants to solve the situation with a “stronger control” of the refugee centers and to send the military to Sicily.
The reasons for the miserable conditions in southern Italy, in addition to the lack of support from Rome and the EU, are the policies of the regional government of Sicily. This has been governed by a coalition of the fascist alliance of Silvio Berlusconi’s “Forza Italia”, Georgia Melonis “Fratelli d’Italia” and Salvinis Lega since 2017 and supported the latter’s foreclosure policy. In the case of the Salvini trials, the regional government also showed solidarity with the ex-minister.
In the daily newspaper The Republic the former prosecutor Gherardo Colombo therefore called for a different refugee policy through Europe instead of leaving it to the right wing: »Millions of refugees will come to Europe from Africa. Italy and Greece cannot tackle the problem alone «. In the article he referred to Libya, where refugees “live in Nazi-style concentration camps” and women who arrive there will all be raped. Climate change, population growth and wars would mean that millions of refugees would have to be taken in in the future “because nobody can stop them”. In the end he demands: “The European Union must present an international program”.