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Lawyers, journalists sensitise Gambians in Italy as asylum impasse continues

Dec 22, 2015, 10:15 AM | Article By: Alagie Jinkang in Italy

Some human rights and migration lawyers, and journalists in Italy have taken it upon themselves to sensitise migrants from Africa, particularly The Gambia, on their rights to asylum and fair treatment in Europe.

Many undocumented African migrants from countries like The Gambia – countries not in high scale conflict – are quickly denied papers in Italy for they are termed “economic migrants”.

Economic migrants are hardly given asylum in economy-troubled Europe, for fear of snatching the available jobs from the indigenes.

Aware of the unfair treatment meted to such migrants in Italy, the lawyers and journalists took it upon themselves to get the unfortunate migrants know their rights and limitations in such a situation.

Some of the lawyers are accusing the Italian authorities for “unfairly” giving the economic migrants refusal-of-entry into Italy “without conforming to the due processes of international law”.

Recently, 20 new arrivals from The Gambia were issued refusal-of-entry into Italy, because they were assumed to be economic migrants.The young men and women, age 21 – 32, were given a 7-day trial period to prove their case or be deported upon expiry of the time.

Thanks to the defence of the lawyers and journalists, the Gambians were finally transferred from Pozzallo to Catania to seek asylum.

While the EU endeavours to distribute migrants among member states, Gambians are yet to move.Nationals like those from Eritrea, a one-party state where military conscription is said to be mandatory and indefinite, are enjoying that privilege as they flew to Sweden.

Lawyer Alexandra and journalist Jinkang, surrounded by asylum seekers, explained the procedures for asylum seeking and the possible obstacles that could be faced along the way.

Lawyer Alexandra said Gambians stand little chance to have international protection under the high influx of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.

He explained the complex and sometimes arbitrary procedures for asylum processing in Europe, which visibly left some Gambians many worried with little hope.

Prof. Stege and Veglio, human rights lawyers, were much more direct to the point, saying “under the present situation, Gambians stand slim chance”.

Frontex, an Italy agency, said they seek to speed up the asylum processes and filter out economic migrants, so that “the right persons are given the opportunities”.

But they have not given any clear explanation as to how to go about the sorting.

The agency said those who fulfilled their criteria will be moved to other European countries, and given asylum.

Human rights and migration lawyers said: “What is disturbing is that the criteria in use are unclear, leading to bias and discrimination.”

Enzo Ini, an Italian who often gives aid to the migrants in the city of Pozzallo, said they cannot offer any help in the asylum seeking process, for that is beyond their control.