[LONDON / From our Correspondent] Italy continues to return migrant children and adult asylum seekers to Greece. Human Rights Watch stressed the fact in a report last January, but the call for a change has not reached the Italian authorities.
Secured on ferries, they are sent to Greece regardless of the age group they belong to. As a result children as young as 13, are sent back by Italian authorities within hours of their arrival without adequate consideration of their particular needs as children or their desire to apply for asylum.
In the 45-page report, “Turned Away: Summary Returns of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Adult Asylum Seekers from Italy to Greece,” the failure of Italian border police is documented; in the Adriatic ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, and Venice the authorities are unable to screen adequately for people in need of protection, in violation of Italy’s legal obligations. Human Rights Watch interviewed 29 children who were summarily returned to Greece from Italian ports, 20 of them in 2012.
“Every year hundreds of people risk life and limb hiding in or under trucks and cars on ferries crossing the Adriatic Sea,” said Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Italy sends them straight back to Greece.”
Placed in the custody of the captains of commercial ferries, adults and children alike are confined on board ships during the return journey to Greece in places such as makeshift holding cells or engine rooms and sometimes denied adequate food.
The international community is taking actions against Italy, but the violation continues at the expenses of human lives.