Mediterranean migrants: political and legal problems

Interview with Marco Borraccetti, professor of Law

Photo Credit: Noborder Network
On the 28th October, the official border controls met in Brussel to talk about new treatment for the migrants.
The issue is not unusual in Europe, as the number of the crossers in the Mediterranean Sea is high.

The rescue and search operation led by Italy – called Mare Nostrum – has succeeded in saving many lives, but not all of them.
The problem is not easy. First of all, there are legal matters implied.

In a phone interview, Marco Borraccetti, professor of Law at the University of Bologna, has tried to explain the difficult role played by Italy, the country first involved for its central position in the Mediterranean.

A broader presence of migrants will determine the future chance of getting a job for the Italian community. The migrants, therefore, may influence great part of the young people’s lives.
How do your students react towards a re-thinking of the immigration policies?

Many of my students are very active for promoting the integration. The students that are going to take their degree do not perceive this risk, I mean the migrants stealing their jobs.

Instead, they are worried about the lack of job in general, in Italy. They decide to go abroad not for the migrants’ fault.

The new European operation, called Triton, will limit the budget and even the area of the Italian control.
How can it influence the justice towards the smugglers?

I have some doubts regarding this matter, for two reasons.

First of all, an activity that is essentially a control activity of the territorial waters will determine a transfer of the migrants in deep sea, decreasing the risk for the smugglers to be caught.
Triton is an operation with the aim to control the sea border.
Mare Nostrum was an operation called ‘search and rescue’, hence with the aim of rescuing the people in the sea, and it has led to the arrest of many smugglers.

But the problem is elsewhere: there are not international laws - apart from particular legal arrangements - by which the smugglers caught in international waters may be brought back for a trial in whatever country.
That is the real matter. Therefore, the smuggler, with less control in the sea, will make the transfer in international waters.

What may be the obstacles for some improvements in this direction?

It is essentially a political obstacle, and a cultural obstacle.

The British people said that, in their opinion, an operation like Mare Nostrum facilitate the illegal immigration. There could be many other precautions in these sense, that’s right, but I think there is a bigger and more important problem at the political level.

Regarding the cultural matter, it is strictly related to the acceptance of the asylum seekers, and this is a different problem.

The two issues are linked together, mainly by the disorganization of the south regions in Italy.

Should we solve our problems related to an internal disorganisation before introduce the issue to the Europe?

The two processes can go together, at the same pace.
Moreover, Italy has made great progresses in the last one/two years, as for what regards the acceptance of the asylum seekers.

The most important thing is to make the other states understand that it is not an Italian choice to be where we actually are.
That kind of system, it is not finalized just to control the border, but to safeguard human rights and it's due to the peculiar feature of the sea. We cannot forget this aspect: there is the sea, the water, and to reject a person means to sentence him to death.

This argument is far from the reject by air or by land, for example. These two types of reject occur on the land, in quite reasonable safe conditions for the person involved. In the sea, the person dies, basically, because he risks of drowning.