22 September 2006

Nicosia Blocco 10

Sono detenuto da 14 mesi e non ho commesso nessun reato, è questa l’Europa?”. Se lo chiede il sierraleonese intervistato da Sergio Serraino nell’aprile 2006 al blocco 10 della prigione di Nicosia. Il reparto destinato alla detenzione dei migranti senza documenti e richiedenti asilo approdati sull’isola di Cipro. Membro dell’Unione europea dal maggio 2004, l’isola ospita almeno 110.000 immigrati, il 15% della popolazione residente nella regione sotto il controllo greco. Dal 2004 la polizia cipriota ha arrestato 12.000 migranti privi di documenti. Nel 2006 le persone fermate sono state 3.778, il 378% in più rispetto al 2005. E nel 2007 sono già oltre 3.000. Arrivano da Siria, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Egitto, Turchia, ma anche dall’Africa. Si imbarcano in Egitto o in Turchia sui mercantili e vengono sbarcati nella regione dell’isola controllata dalle autorità turche. Dopodiché passano la “linea verde” e entrano senza documenti nella regione controllata dalla Grecia. Sono detenuti in condizioni degradanti, a volte per anni. Dall’isola trapelano poche notizie.

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Nell’ottobre del 2007, nel blocco 10 del carcere di Nicosia è esplosa una rivolta: sei iraniani e un afgano hanno passato quattro giorni arrampicati sopra la torre della cisterna dell’acqua del centro di detenzione, chiedendo che le loro domande d’asilo venissero riesaminate. Alcuni sono agli arresti da quattro anni. Altre denunce arrivano dal carcere di Limassol, dove uno sciopero della fame dei migranti detenuti è finito in una violenta repressione da parte della polizia. Un migrante ha tentato il suicidio. Altre proteste erano scoppiate sempre al blocco 10 nel maggio 2006, con scioperi della fame e materassi incendiati. Cipro sta diventando una nuova porta sull’Unione europea. E inevitabilmente è già diventata una nuova sentinella della Fortezza Europa


Secondo un rapporto su Cipro del Jesuit Refugee Service, curato da Symfiliosi, migranti e richiedenti asilo sono detenuti in stazioni di polizia o carceri. E in particolare: alla stazione di polizia di Larnaca, all'aeroporto internazionale di Larnaca, alla stazione di polizia del porto di Limassol, al blocco 10 del carcere centrale di Nicosia, e alla stazione di polizia di Lakatamia, a Nicosia.

Ecco cosa scrive Symfiliosi sul Blocco 10

"BLOCK 10, CENTRAL PRISON, NICOSIA
The premise is situated within the enclosed area of the Central Prison in Nicosia in a special ward known as “Block 10”. Block 10 is a two-storey building with a capacity for 76 persons, with a surrounding three-metre-high wall and a small yard around the building, some 2-3 metres on each side. One novelty following recent renovations is a basketball court, which has not been used yet. Fr Christophoros said detainees are doing construction work to complete it. Detainees are kept on the first floor, which has only one large window on the front. The side elevations of the building, where the cells are, have no windows. Detainees can ask to be put in the same cell with persons of their nationality, language or religion and if space allows, their request is granted. The ground floor accommodates offices, a kitchenette for staff and a small meeting room for personal appointments.

A typical day at Block 10 starts at 7am with breakfast; lunch is provided at noon, and at 7pm dinner. At 9am, the main lights are turned off and rooms are locked. From the comments of detainees and of Fr Christophoros, who visits Block 10 regularly, it appears that there are no particular rules, except that detainees must be “co-operative”, follow the daily schedule without complaint, and so on. The only concrete rule known to detainees is that they are not allowed to smoke in their cells. Those who “behave” are allowed access to fresh air a few times a week; they get to see their visitors and to make a phone call once a week. Fr Christophoros said that although “well-behaved” detainees have access to the phone once week, it is a known fact that their conversations are tapped. Conversely, those seen as “not behaving” are denied visits, phone calls and access to fresh air. A detainee is considered to misbehave when he shouts regularly, gets into fights with other detainees, conspires with others not to eat, and sets fire to his blankets. It appears that there is a wide margin of discretion vested in the police officer in charge, to decide who is behaving and who is not.

Interviewees said there was tension amongst detainees who often fought with each other. Fr Christophoros put this down to friction between Christians and Muslims, while the detainees attributed it to their poor psychological condition and anger at being detained for so long with so little to do. Detainees displaying “bad behaviour” may also be locked up in a small isolated room for as long as the guards see fit, without cigarettes or contact with anyone. One detainee said some who refused to “cooperate” were locked up in the isolation cell and they later told their cellmates that they had been beaten by the guards. None of those interviewed actually saw the isolation cell. One interviewee said guards would often try to frighten undisciplined detainees by threatening them with removal, a threat taken seriously because it often materialised. Guards often search the cells for banned items.

Detainees are free to move around the facility but there seem to be no hard and fast rule governing access to fresh air. One interviewee said that during his seven months of detention in Block 10, he had access to open air only in the first three months, for around 1½ hours, 2-3 times a week, depending on the guards on shift. Another detainee said he never exercised because the guards never let them outside in the yard.

The daily cost for each detainee, including food, salaries of guards, utility bills etc, is CYP55 (approximate Euro equivalent: 32).38 This means that, for an average of 50 detainees every day, the annual budget of Block 10 is just over one million Cyprus pounds (approximate Euro equivalent: 1,724,138). The duration of detention ranges from a couple of days minimum to a
maximum of 30 months in one case.

Detainees said there was once a three-day hunger strike by all detainees in Block 10 to protest against their conditions but no interest was shown by the authorities. Sometimes detainees go on hunger strike for 6-7 days, in vain. The English language daily Cyprus Mail reported on 2 June 006 that 28 detainees in Block 10 planned to go on hunger strike to protest the incarceration of some detainees for more than 20 months without charge. It is not known if the action went ahead.

On 4 May 2006, a group of detainees set fire to the contents of their cells, to protest against their prolonged detention. Five detainees and two police officers were hospitalised as a result.45 On 23 August 2006, another incident took place, whereby dozens of detainees shouted and banged on the doors of their cell. Some set their clothes and linen alight. They were protesting because the air-conditioners were not working and it was really hot, and because they had been locked in their cells all day following the escape of three detainees. The incident followed a series of sudden searches with dogs in the detainees’ cells to find items that may help them escape".


Per maggiori informazioni su Cipro, consigliamo di leggere il rapporto su Cipro del Parlamento Europeo