03 October 2009

In Italy for the past 29 years, with his wife and child. And now he risks repatriation

When Bearzot’s Italian national team won the World Cup of 1982 in Spain, Z. Jacob had been living in Italy for two years. He had come at the age of 19, in 1980, from Cameroon. In recent years he’s been working in Rome at the Jogodo club, in Via Torre Spaccata 127. All illegally because he had no residence permit. It had expired during a long convalescence following a serious car accident from which he still bears the scars on his skull. In Rome he also had a warehouse for musical instruments. He would rent them for parties and concerts to earn a living. He even had a cultural association, registered in the name of his wife, the "Black and White" association. Yes, his wife. Because after 29 years one has an entire life in our country. Besides having a wife, Jacob has a son. A 10-year-old child, to whom the mother still has not explained where his father has gone since the police stopped him, on 31 August, for a simple document check. Imprisoned for the past 29 days in the Centre for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) of Ponte Galeria, Rome, Jacob now fears his repatriation. Especially for the fate of his family and his son.

There is another tragicomic detail. On 18 April 2009, four months before being stopped by police and taken to the CIE to be expelled, Mr. Jacob had participated seminar in Frascati on Human Rights Studies, entitled "From prisoners of war to the new deprived of liberty" . He shows me the certificate of participation. It has his name on it. Guess who was organising the event? The Italian Red Cross. The same people who now run his deprivation of liberty within the Centre for Identification and Expulsion of Ponte Galeria, where he has already spent 33 days and from where he is likely to be repatriated sooner rather than later.


translated by Camilla Gamba