Oct 23, 2008, 6:35 AM
Many Gambian ‘back-way’ migrants in Italy who applied for refugee status or asylum but were rejected are now taking lawyers to further their case in a court of law, whose process could take one year or more.
Since many ‘back-way’ migrants in Italy at the moment cannot afford a private lawyer, they depend on the lawyers providing free legal services to the migrants at the camps.
Many of these lawyers said they have more than a hundred such cases to handle, and the process of legal representation for rejected migrants is “tedious”.
Some of the lawyers even claimed that the Italian government “does not welcome” their free services to the migrants.
They said the government allocates “fewer incentives” to them, as a result the number of lawyers offering free service “is very few compared to the work.”
Two lawyers told The Point correspondent in Italy at a court hearing that the EU migration laws and asylum seeking procedures are “too technical, bureaucratic and unwelcoming,” especially to African migrants.
The lawyers said it is less difficult to defend cases of people from Eritrea, Somalia, Palestine, etc. to have papers, but for those from countries like The Gambia that are not undergoing any war it “is very difficult”.
“Finding information to support the cases of Gambians and other countries not in war is always difficult,” the lawyers said.
However, many Gambians have left their camps without proper documentation because of the cumbersomeness of the process of having papers.
The Point correspondent said passing years without the required document is nothing new in Italy nowadays, but police continue to hunt undocumented individuals and anyone caught risks indefinite detention or deportation.
Besides, to find a regular job with decent wages is difficult for undocumented immigrants, and such people hardly report any case of abuse meted to them by their employers or the society since their stay is illegal.
Some of the Gambians who left Italy without any paper and later came back said they have gone to other European countries, but the situation there is as tedious as in Italy.
They said: “Our fingerprints were first taken in Italy so the Italian government should give us the necessary documents; this is why we finally came back to work on our papers here.”
The long horrific journey that brought many Gambians to Europe does not only end in entering the Italian borders; more still awaits them.