Italy denounced for hosing down migrants in cold

via Italy denounced for hosing down migrants in cold – The Malta Independent:

Italy’s government has promised an investigation into the treatment of migrants after a video was taken of naked refugees being hosed down and disinfected in cold weather at a holding center on the southern island of Lampedusa.

The video, which aired Monday on state-run RAI television, showed a dozen male migrants who lined up in a warehouse, then stripped to be hosed down with a solution to treat scabies. One of the migrants told RAI that men and women had been disinfected this way a few days ago.

In another article, at ANSAMed, there are more details of this torture of migrants. Yes, I am using the word “torture” because hosing down migrants in a detention center perfectly fits this definition: The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain. From the article:

[Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini’s] comments came after the TG2 evening newscast on State broadcaster Rai on Monday night aired footage shot with a cell phone by a Syrian detainee, showing dozens of men and women being forced to strip publicly outdoors in the winter weather before guards hosed them down with disinfectants.

“We are being treated like animals,” the author of the footage told TG2. “Men and women undergo the same humiliation every three days to cure scabies, which we caught since we came to the detention center”.[…]

Critics of Italy’s migrant detention centers say they are being run like sub-standard prisons.

An October investigative report on the Lampedusa holding center by L’Espresso news magazine documented people being made to eat and sleep on the ground, covered only with paper blankets in the freezing weather, children catching head lice, and stray dogs being allowed to wander about, urinating on the refugees’ clothes and luggage.

European version of “human rights” as it is applied to undocumented migrants. On June 25th 2012, The European Union released its “Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy” (link to PDF). From the document (emphasis mine):

The European Union is founded on a shared determination to promote peace and stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These principles underpin all aspects of the internal and external policies of the European Union. 

Human rights are universally applicable legal norms. Democracy is a universal aspiration. Throughout the world, women and men demand to live lives of liberty, dignity and security in open and democratic societies underpinned by human rights and the rule of law. Sustainable peace, development and prosperity are possible only when grounded upon respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. […]

The EU is aware of these challenges and determined to strengthen its efforts to ensure that human rights are realised for all. The EU will continue to throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world.

The EU seeks to prevent violations of human rights throughout the world and, where violations occur, to ensure that victims have access to justice and redress and that those responsible are held to account. To this end, the EU will step up its efforts to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law across all aspects of external action.

There is a very strong focus on “exporting” the European version of human rights while at the same time refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants inside European borders are not afforded basic human dignity. A lot of the rhetoric about “promoting and exporting human rights” is merely a marketing device devoid of praxis when it applies within EU member States and the necessary accountability that would somewhat legitimize those “intentions” stated in the document. As it is, the document becomes a neocolonial mechanism to intervene around the world any time European interests might be in jeopardy while the people who hail from the countries where the EU intervenes are systematically abused within EU borders.

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