30 November 2011

CIE: new government, same old censorship

The government changes, but on the issue of centres for identification and expulsion (CIEs) censorship persists. Circular 1305 of April 1, 2011, by which former Interior Minister Roberto Maroni banned press entrance to CIEs eight months ago, continues to be valid. The proof is that my request to visit the CIE in Rome was denied two weeks ago. Reason why the Union and the Association of Journalists sent a letter to the new Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, asking to repeal the circular on censorship and restore freedom of the press in this country. Which is the first step in letting the stories of those centres out, stories of institutional violence endured by those being imprisoned there. In other words, the first step in creating a critical discourse on the criminalization of mobility. And on the repression of poverty. Below you can read the letter to the minister. If you too want your voice to be heard, perhaps by sending the same letter, please write to this address liberta.civiliimmigrazione@interno.it

Letter to the new Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri

National Italian Press Federation and Association of Journalists

Subject: Ban on press entrance to CIEs

With this we ask you to lift the ban on journalists' access to CIEs (Centres for Identification and Expulsion of immigrants), established by Circular protocol no. 1305 signed on April 1, 2011 by your predecessor, Hon. Roberto Maroni.
Consequently to that act, today and "until further notice" only parliamentarians, in addition to employees of identified international aid agencies, may enter CIEs; for those who intend to exercise the right and duty to report it is impossible to verify first hand what happens inside those places (as is the case for those journalists who, even just in recent days, have received refusals by a few prefectures to their request for entry).

We understand the problems that arise at times in the daily management of reception, but it is not fair to consider information a hindrance to the functioning of the facilities (as is in fact the motivation for prohibition of Maroni’s circular).
The Union and the Order of Journalists are in fact convinced - along with many colleagues who have signed an appeal for the withdrawal of the Circular - that confidence in the transparency of institutions is an essential aliment.

The impossibility for free information to access places of involuntary concentration of people not only limits citizens’ right to know, but eventually legitimizes a climate of suspicion regarding the activities of the Centres.

Moreover, our request has already had the support of the agenda no G101, approved by the Senate on August 2, by which "the Government is committed to establishing and urgently taking all necessary measures to enable journalists and media professionals to access the centres for immigrants and asylum seekers, changing the rules of access and thus neutralizing the effects of the circular of the Minister of the Interior".

We are confident that we can reach an agreement aimed at regulating the duty of information inside CIEs as well: in such a way as to not preclude the normal workings of procedures carried out inside CIEs and to guarantee the imperative right to privacy for immigrants, employees of the managing bodies and police officers.

translated by Camilla Gamba