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Live from Lampedusa: The Freedom of Movement

Nicholas De Genova introduces The Charter of Lampedusa.

Illustrazione di Haregu Illustration by Haregu

For several years now, the European Union has converted the Mediterranean Sea into a mass grave. Untold thousands of refugees, migrants, and their children have been consigned to gruesome, unnatural, premature deaths by shipwreck and drowning, often following protracted ordeals of hunger, thirst, exposure, and abandonment on the high seas. 

These lives have been mercilessly sacrificed — usually with callous disregard, occasionally with sanctimonious hypocrisy — in the interests of instituting a “new” Europe encircled by militarized and securitized borders.

For many of these asylum-seekers, braving the horrors of the European border regime came only after fleeing from all manner of atrocities, persecution, and misery in their countries of origin and, commonly, also in numerous other countries of “transit”, crossed en route to Europe. 

For others - those who migrate in the quest to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones - the vicious severities of the extended and expansive European borderzone present a fierce endurance test, but their needs, desires, and aspirations always supercede this death-defying obstacle course. 

Most commonly, these refugees and migrants originate in places that were formerly the colonies of European masters - mass-scale de facto prison labour camps where their forebears produced the greater part of the material basis for the prosperity, power, and prestige of “Europe.”  In other words, virtually all migrations and refugee flows that today seek their futures in Europe have been deeply shaped by an indisputably European (global, colonial) history. 

With the imposition and enforcement of a “European” border today, a brave new “Europe” has been busily re-drawing the proverbial color line between a European space largely reserved “for ‘Europeans’ only” and the postcolonial harvest of centuries of European exploitation and subjugation.  A new Europe, fortified by very old and morbid cruelties.

At the veritable center of the Mediterranean deathscape, the Italian island of Lampedusa is closer to Tunisia than it is to Sicily.  As a major site for the enactment of the European border, Lampedusa is also one of the decisive settings for the staging of the European border spectacle.  In this spectacle, all the techniques and technologies of border policing are mobilized to produce the material and practical conditions of possibility for the exclusion of the “undesirables,” the illegalized migrants and unwelcome asylum-seekers.  Simultaneously, this spectacle routinely and repetitively appears to verify that “Europe” is indeed a kind of earthly paradise, a place to cherish and protect against the menace of “invasion” by the wretched of the earth, a destination toward which the huddled postcolonial masses are desperate and literally dying to travel, by any and all means.  Hence, when the migrants are not left to die at sea, the European authorities congratulate themselves for their muscular (militaristic) humanitarianism, “rescuing” the pathetic migrants on their pitiful unseaworthy boats, while in fact arresting them, detaining them, and frequently deporting them thereafter.  And yet, simultaneously, this border spectacle never ceases to also involve the rather less sensational inclusion of illegalized labor migrants and refugees, most of whom will eventually become “rejected asylum-seekers.”

Thus, as a major destination for migrant and refugee boats, and consequently as an inevitable locus for migrant and refugee shipwrecks and mass death, Lampedusa has become synonymous with all the calamity and shame of the European border regime.

Now, however, Lampedusa has earned yet another distinction. 

The name of Lampedusa has recently become irreversibly conjoined to a proclamation and a pact dedicated to enunciating the human freedom of movement as a non-negotiable foundation for the prospect of a new way of life, on a global scale.  “The Charter of Lampedusa” is the product of an intense collaboration by a diverse array of activists from numerous organizations and social movements, drafted in Italian and recently translated into English.  The Charter speaks for itself.  I am honored to have this opportunity to introduce it to a wider public.

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THE CHARTER OF LAMPEDUSA

PREAMBLE

The Charter of Lampedusa is a pact achieved mainly through a constituent grassroots process which brought together various organizations, associations and individuals in Lampedusa from the 31st of January to the 2nd of February 2014.

The gathering followed the death of over 600 women, men and children in the shipwrecks of the 3rd and 11th of October 2013, the most recent of a long series of tragedies. The Mediterranean Sea has become a cemetery as a result of current migration control policies.

The Charter is not intended as a draft law, legislative proposal or as a petition to governments.

All the groups and individuals who undersign the Charter of Lampedusa commit to putting it into practice and to defending its principles through our endeavours, in the ways, languages and actions that each of us considers relevant, whether or not the Charter obtains recognition by current state and/or supra-state institutions.

Context:

The Charter of Lampedusa intends the whole planet as its sphere of application. The island of Lampedusa - at the very centre of the Mediterranean - is its place of origin.

Lampedusa is a necessary transit point, but it has found itself behind a frontier. Current government and migration control policies have led to tens of thousands dying in their attempt to reach the island. With the Charter of Lampedusa we want, instead, to return the island and its islanders to their normal roles. Through this subversion of the predominant economic and political rules, we want to start moving our world forward.

For many years the European Union has created a political, territorial and existential geography based on exclusion and the limitation of mobility. This geography serves only economic interests. It produces a neat distinction between those who have the right to move freely and those forced to face endless obstacles, not least of which is the risk of losing their life, in order to move from place to place. It also engenders a deepening of inequalities, which have already been exacerbated by the economic crisis which has been ongoing for almost a decade. We declare that such migration policies are totally unacceptable, because the only things they foster are inequality and exploitation.

Starting from the construction of a freedom-based alternative, founded on new prospects for individual lives, with no distinctions made on the basis of nationality, citizenship and/or place of birth, the Charter of Lampedusa calls for a radical transformation in the social, economic, political, cultural and legal relations which form the basis of global injustice. The Charter of Lampedusa states that, as human beings, we all inhabit the planet Earth as a shared space.  This common environment must be respected. Differences must be considered as assets, a source of new opportunities, and must never be exploited to build barriers.

The Charter of Lampedusa has two parts. This division aims to highlight the tension between our desires and convictions on the one hand, and the reality of the world we live in on the other:

Part I:  Our founding principles through which we aim to develop the struggles and actions inspired by the Charter of Lampedusa.

Part II :  Our response to current migration policies and militarization of national borders.  The combination of these produces inequality, racism, discrimination, exploitation, confinement and the death of fellow human beings. 

PART I

I.1 FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

The Charter of Lampedusa asserts Freedom of Movement for every human being.  The Charter of Lampedusa asserts that every human being must be free to move according to their wish.

Recognizing that:

- human history is the history of migrations, but that migration today is also a basic feature of neoliberalism and the capitalist economic system;

- migratory policies are today among the main class division mechanisms to increase asymmetries and colonial relationships;

- the hypocrisy of any rhetoric supports the clear target to stall humans' mobility;

- moving in the world according to the needs of the global economy is an imperative which is forced upon a large number of human beings, whilst personal movement is a privilege accorded only to a world minority;

- the regulation of migration routes creates a hierarchy of inclusion and exclusion for millions of humans;

The Charter of Lampedusa asserts that no distinction can or should be made between:

- people who can move freely and those who cannot, on the basis of their native countries and their social, legal and economic status;

- those who can move freely and those who are subjected to the needs of the destination country;

- those who can move freely and those who require permission;

- those who can move freely and those who, to travel the same path, must suffer discrimination, exploitation, violence – including sexual violence, dehumanization and marketization, limitation of their personal freedom, and the risk of  losing their lives.

I.2 FREEDOM OF CHOICE

Observing how migration control policies serve to:

- direct individuals’ migration routes, forcing persons to stay in some countries; pushing them back to transit countries or sending them back to the country of first arrival;

- limit the freedom of individuals to choose their own route, country of residence and the right to freely change it at any time in their life;

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that every human being is free to choose where to live and therefore is free to oppose any obstacle preventing this;

- adolescents also avail of this freedom, though they need to be protected because they are under the age of 18.

I.3 FREEDOM TO STAY

Recognising that:

- the armed conflicts, natural disasters and injustices ravaging large parts of the planet, are phenomena linked to the current economic model;

- production is outsourced to countries where profit can evade any rule, where resources are exploited and redistributed in unfair ways, in the name of economic growth, paying no heed to the environment and the future of humanity;

- even when migration seems to be an individual choice, it is never completely separate from the environment and social contexts;

- inequalities and economic injustices prevent millions of parents from raising their children themselves, because migration can become the only way to assure the life conditions they aspire to,

A. The Charter of Lampedusa asserts:

the freedom to stay in the country of one’s birth or residence and the freedom to struggle and do all that is required to remove any form of exploitation, any form of economic, political, military, cultural subjugation preventing the autonomous, free, independent and peaceful existence of all the people who inhabit the Earth.

Observing that:

formal and informal refoulement mechanisms, the practices of identification, of detention, of confinement, of authorized but controlled routes, and the attribution of different forms of status prevent people from asserting their freedom to choose where to travel to and where to stay,

B. The Charter of Lampedusa asserts:

the freedom to stay as the freedom of individuals to live as they choose in places other than the place of their birth/citizenship and the freedom to plan their lives in these new places.

Recognising that:

through formal allowances based on market rules, national and global socio-economic systems manipulate the right to stay, exploit and differentiate people's legal status and their  life chances,

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that:

- the freedom to stay in a chosen country should in no way depend on working ‘legally’ in the place of arrival on the basis of labour market needs;

- the freedom to stay and to plan a life in a chosen place, implies freedom from any form of exploitation and it requires access to healthcare, housing, work, education, communication and legal information, with no discrimination;

- any obstacle, in any sphere of life, which can obstruct this freedom must be removed.

I.4-FREEDOM TO PLAN A NEW LIFE, WHEN MOVEMENT IS NECESSARY

Because:

- the chronic and structural socio-economic production of conflicts, as well as climatic and environmental disasters, may result in an immediate need to leave,

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that:

every human forced to leave their country of birth/residence due to physical, economic, social, cultural, individual/group potential or past persecutions, has the freedom to choose where to settle and has the right to be reunited in their new home with their loved ones.  In no way should this freedom negate the freedom to travel, to stay and to choose where to live of people who are not in the above conditions.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that:

in such cases as listed above, everyone must immediately be granted and assured the possibility of travelling safely, with no pre-requirements or impediments.

The Charter of Lampedusa furthermore asserts that:

- everybody in the above conditions, must be guaranteed legal, economic, social, cultural and existential protection in all the countries they cross;

- this protection must also be guaranteed wherever these people choose to settle, so that they can build and fulfil their life plans;

- these safeguards must be assured even if they decide to change place to live in.

I.5-PERSONAL FREEDOM

The Charter of Lampedusa states that:

no human being must ever be deprived of personal freedom, and thus be confined or detained, for having exercised their freedom to move from their place of birth/citizenship/arrival or their freedom to stay where they have chosen to settle.

I.6-FREEDOM TO RESIST

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms:

everyone’s Freedom to resist policies which foster inequality and disparity, intended to create divisions, discrimination, exploitation and precariousness of human beings, and which generate inequalities.

Because:

current migration control policies are one of the main instruments to create these conditions,

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms:

the freedom of everybody to resist these whole policies,  as well as in their specific operating mechanisms, such as the institutions of containment and/or detention centres, of borders, acted through stay permits linked to work contracts.

We affirm the freedom to resist practices of deportation and refoulement, unequal access to jobs and housing, exploitation of the migrant labour force, increasing uncertainty of living and working conditions, policies of selection and containment of mobility on the basis of the market economy, visa policies, quota policies, militarization of sea and land, to control and prevent the mobility of human beings.

The Charter of Lampedusa also affirms the freedom and the duty to disobey unjust orders.

PART II

II.0_ DE-MILITARIZATION OF BORDERS

EU countries like Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Sweden, are amongst the ten greatest weapons exporters in the world;

- a very high percentage of this weaponry is imported by countries from which people are escaping because of conflicts, human rights violation, lack of democracy;

- current migration control policies entail a militarization of domestic territories and border zones, under the pretence of granting humanitarian aid or providing security or vigilance measures;

- the control of borders and migrants is intertwined with the militarization of territories for war purposes and to defend the predominant financial interests;

- this form of militarization spreads additional violence on persons, including sexual violence, particularly on women’s bodies;

- militarization produces death, and often entails the disappearance of bodies, thus depriving survivors and relatives of a natural mourning process,

The Charter of Lampedusa marks the need for the immediate abolition of all operations linked to militarization and to management of border control mechanisms, both military and civilian, including military training for refoulement and for control of people’s mobility on international territories.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus calls for the redirection of all those resources allocated and invested in this field to the guarantee of safe routes for people who migrate out of need, as well as for social reasons.

The militarization of domestic territories and borders is presented as a humanitarian-security bond; states prevent migrants from reaching European lands, hinder their routes, filter and block departures.

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for the abolition of:

- the Eurosur system, conceived to impede access to the EU territories;

- the European agency Frontex, officially conceived to combat the arrival of migrants in EU lands, and its current operations

- all the operations of the European Union and its member states, both those carried out in border areas (like the operation Mare Nostrum which started in 2013) and those which involve intervention in non-EU states (such as Eubam which started in Libya in 2013);

- all the control and communication systems and military agenda (electronic and satellite systems, radars, drones, biometric control systems, air and sea vehicles) intended to control migrations and/or militarize territories for purposes of war and the assertion of dominant economic interests;

- all material barriers, in particular the walls and physical barriers surrounding the European Union and which are expanding into bordering states with the aim of preventing freedom of movement.

Furthermore, as regards the role that militarization has taken on in the specific context of Sicily, the Charter of Lampedusa calls for an immediate halt to:

- the use of the Sigonella Naval Air Station for the transit of specialized divisions of the US military that are used for the training of police and armed forces of African regimes;

- the strategic role of the Sigonella base for the control and management of drones which belong to the US and NATO forces, and which also serve as vigilance and support for operations which control and obstruct migrations;

- the procedures for the installation of one of the MUOS ground stations at Niscemi which will have, amongst others, the task of strategically coordinating mobile users, including drones, in the surveillance operations in the Mediterranean and refoulement of migrants in extraterritorial regime.

II.1 FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

The Charter of Lampedusa asserts the need to immediately abolish visas. Visas only allow a selected mobility based on financial possibilities, blocking the free movement of one part of the world population;

- people whose visas are denied risk their lives in order to move or are discriminated against in their access to rights and services once they have reached Europe;

- agreements between EU and countries at migration risk include measures of militarization and border controls, producing negotiation of entry quotas on EU territory.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus calls for:

- the abolition of “migratory clauses” from any agreement

- any country on whom such rules are imposed, to reject this practice.

- opposition to current European neighbourhood policies, freeing the relation between peoples and States from every form of exploitation intended to control migrations.

Current EU migration policies tend to link EU citizen’s legal residence to labour market needs, producing indissoluble ties between residence permits and employment contracts;

- these ties can limit rights and protection of all workers, as migrants can thus be held to ransom by their employers.

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for a separation between the right to enter, reside and stay on territories of the member states and having a work contract.  The system of entry quotas adopted by EU member states and established largely on the basis of their economic needs is one of the main means of illegalization of people.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the immediate need to abolish the system of quotas, as well as to recognize the right to stay to all of those who have already entered the European territory, overcoming once and for all the logic of amnesties.

The Charter of Lampedusa also notices the need to abolish the qualitative (linked to income and housing criteria) and quantitative (linked to the number and age of the people to reunite) limits currently imposed on family reunions.

With respect to children, the Charter of Lampedusa:

- endorses the principle of the child’s best interest, with respect to any decision which concerns them;

- supports the presumption of minority and the need to stop the use of invasive medical practices to assess age;

- promotes the immediate activation of protection and every tool to ensure children can exercise all their rights;

Furthermore, we state that aid and support should be offered to children not by military/police forces, but rather by qualified civilian personnel.

At all moments of the migration process, every person facing institutional representatives must be permitted to understand what is happening to them, be informed of their rights, be able to make themselves heard and understood in their own language and to participate in the decisions which are made about them.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need for:

- the immediate abolition of regulations which directly or indirectly qualify people’s entry and/or stay in a country as ‘illegal’,

- the immediate annulment of offences which directly or indirectly criminalize the rescue, reception and hospitality of migrants, regardless of the ‘legality’ of their entry and of their stay.

II.2-FREEDOM OF CHOICE

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for:

the abolition of all national and international laws, especially EU legislation deriving from the Schengen treaty, which limit the freedom of movement, to stay and to choose where to live of European citizens and of those who come from so-called ‘third countries”, particularly international asylum seekers.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms in particular the need to immediately abolish the Dublin Regulation and all its subsequent modifications that force migrants to apply for international protection in the first member state they enter, thus preventing people from carrying out their life plans.  Asylum seekers should have freedom of choice as regards the country where they are applying for international protection.  All countries should reach equally high standards in protection and reception, with immediate and effective sanctions towards states not meeting with these standards.

II.3-FREEDOM TO STAY

One of the main instruments of subordination and control of migrants is the strong link between the right to residence and the fulfilment of more or less complicated bureaucratic formalities;

- the regulations governing these formalities in various countries are part of a separate and differentiated legislation which creates legal entities with reduced rights, always subordinate to the protection of state borders and state interests.

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for the elimination of every condition which, in regulations or in practice, creates unequal access to rights on the basis of citizenship as regards access to welfare and/or regulations for access to employment, to political rights, including the right to vote and civil status records. The requirements to formalize residence status should be immediately reduced to the checking of identification, whatever one’s citizenship, and these functions should be detracted from the Ministry of the Interior and the Police forces.

A. The right to work:

Entire sectors of the labour market in Europe are based on the exploitation of migrant labour which, as in the case of domestic and care work, is mostly carried out by migrant women;

- this high availability at a low cost, with low rights, helps to overcome the deficit of public institutions, also permitting their de-responsibilization;

- forms of neo-slavery and exploitation of migrants also entail forms of blackmail and violence, both physical and psychological, including gender and sexual violence;

- access to many professions is constantly prevented for women and men, according to a segmentation of the labour market on the basis of origin and/or citizenship;

- alongside these aspects, the non-recognition of educational qualifications and/or acquired competences (whether documented or not) results in the elimination and denial of personal and professional development.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus affirms the right to access all professions and exploitation-free jobs, to work in safe conditions, with full respect of the person in all their dimensions and with no discrimination. This right is to be guaranteed through equal pay and in respect of contractual norms – constantly violated by opportunistic delocalization of production and labour force – above all where this entails a revision of the economic and social system of the countries concerned, towards a more balanced redistribution of resources and services.

B. The right to Inhabit

The exercise of the right to inhabit is, for a large part of the population, not respected and thus is actually layered on the basis of income and is often discriminatory, according to people’s citizenship;

- the right to inhabit is a precondition for the exercise of other rights, such as political rights and other freedoms, like that of developing one’s life plan where one chooses to live;

- the right to inhabit is constantly violated by the confinement of some minorities and some groups, defined on national, religion, socio/economic basis, to determined spaces which are separate from the rest of the urban context. These spaces are designated for this end on the basis of discriminatory prejudices that often oblige members of these minorities and groups to modify their lifestyle and life plans;

- a considerable number of public and private buildings are left abandoned, unused or underused, and not destined to provide the right to inhabit.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus asserts the right for every human being to fight to obtain and to build the possibility to inhabit an adequate space, depending on each individual life plan and in respect of every social and relational dimension in which their personal existence can be fulfilled.

C. The right to healthcare and access to welfare

Personal fulfilment can only occur through an interdependence between people and the whole of society;

- this interdependence becomes stronger at certain stages of life such as during pregnancy, parenthood, childhood or old age, as well as in certain conditions of existence, such as illness or disability;

- currently access to public and social policies meant to grant the sustainability of these interdependencies is determined on the basis of citizenship, gender, social , economic and legal status.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus affirms the need to assure non-discriminatory access to health-care infrastructures, medical care, monetary aid and services including mother-child care and pediatrics, because they are essential to the full exercise of everyones’ right to receive and provide care.

D: The right to education

Non-discriminatory, free access to knowledge and education through learning pathways is a basic medium to fulfil one’s life plan in all its forms;

- countries produce practices and norms which block and subordinate this access to the ownership of specific legal, economic and social status;

- the possibility to learn local languages is a fundamental right of everyone as it is a basic condition for fulfilling one’s life plan;

- institutions should never exploit learning and knowledge of official local languages as selection criteria and/or prerequisites for obtaining and renewing residence permits.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus affirms the need:

- to remove any discriminatory barriers towards access to knowledge, education and instruction, and the learning of the local and mother tongues;

- to release all those relational contexts in which this can happen and improve;

- to grant the recognition of international qualifications, equation of training and professional paths, integrating them where due, so as

- to erase those practices and norms which, in many countries, separate and differentiated educational paths according to citizenship or legal, social or economic status.

E. The right to build and preserve a family and affective personal core

Every human being is free to build a family and affective personal core, with chosen persons, respecting their liberty, regardless of citizenship and/or legal, economic and social status, as well as sexual orientation;

- the possibility to build and preserve a  family or affective personal core, is often subordinated to economic and social conditions, even more so in the case of migrants;

- migrants are usually tied, with reduced rights, to the labour market, by social systems and  public policies.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need to erase all the institutional interference which, through the production of practices, means of control and legislations, limit people’s freedom to preserve and constitute a family or affective core; these regulations create differences in legal status and other areas, specifically in the case of marriage between EU citizens and non, or two non-EU citizens.

The Charter of Lampedusa recognizes and respects a family and affective core, also as regards administrative procedures of entry and stay, of civil unions between EU citizens and non, or two non-EU citizens.

F. The right to social and political participation

Because of legislative and bureaucratic obstacles, as well as economic, environmental and housing conditions, millions of people settle in a place without any access to its political and social life.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that every person, regardless of their citizenship and legal, social or economic  status, if they so wish, must be able to fully take part in their public and social environment, and have full access to the places where this participation happens to be, including electoral and representative processes of democratic institutions on local, national and supranational levels.

G. Agreement of a non-discriminatory language code, with respect for everyone

- Xenophobic and openly racist rhetoric, which finds ample diffusion in the public sphere and in all categories of media, as well as the rhetoric of a racism of differences, which looks to other cultures as static and immutable forms, both foster legal, economic and social discrimination;

- media racism is manifested in many forms strongly connected with forms of institutional racism which limit, through norms and practices, access to rights on the basis of origin and/or citizenship;

- the use of terms such as ‘illegal’, which  evoke stereotypes and criminalizing prejudices, is normalized and widespread, even in the texts of laws, as is the general use of stigmatizing and discriminatory expressions and tones towards people on the basis of their real or assumed origin and social, cultural and religious membership;

- those processes of criminalization and stigmatization are enacted through the constant denial of the right of migrants to represent themselves and narrate their stories in the media and/or public spaces, and consequently contribute to partial, one-sided, information;    

- the spectacularization of the moments of migrants landing on the island of Lampedusa, as at many other European borders, as well as the use of an alarmist and securitarian language which distorts the reality of phenomena and erases people’s stories, contributes to the intensification of phenomena of racism and discrimination.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms a political vision of relations between people that does not depend in any way on their origin and/or citizenship, or even on their real or assumed cultural or religious membership. It acknowledges the need to fight all language founded on prejudice, discrimination and/or racism, wherever it occurs, in every context and in every place.  Public resources for the production and consumption of art and culture are often inaccessible, and it’s important to not only be an object of other people’s narration.

The Charter of Lampedusa thus affirms the right of everyone to access public resources, funds and spaces for art and culture.

H. New forms of citizenship

The establishment of citizenship, since the birth of the Nation-States, has revealed itself to be an inclusive, but at the same time strongly exclusive, mechanism;

- access to rights, including universal ones, has been transformed into a privilege tied to juridical status;

- to date, the EU has introduced no innovative criteria to offer more inclusive access to citizenship, but rather has limited its exclusive conferral to individuals who are already citizens of one member state;

- in the process of EU enlargement, an internal hierarchy has been constituted between citizenship of different Member states.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need

to recognise the full exercise of equal rights to whoever finds themselves in the European area, regardless of their citizenship and calls for the recognition of a single European citizenship based on ius soli.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms in any case the need to establish new relationships between institutions and people, based on residence and no longer on national membership.

II.4- FREEDOM TO PLAN A NEW LIFE

Humanitarian policies enacted by state, supra state structures and international organizations are to be rejected as they

- are based on the assumption that only few should be granted total freedom of movement;

- block those who move out of need towards areas of immediate safety;

- condition their paths, with the result of forcing thousands of beings into precarious life and subsistence conditions, in refugee camps for long periods of time and even permanently;

- favour the European Union’s choices in relation to asylum seekers intended to dislocate or externalize protection, by transferring people on a selective basis (resettlement), or impeding their arrival in Europe (regional protection program);

- constitute the political aspect of war, militarization and economic exploitation of territories.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need to establish routes to guarantee secure and fast arrival for those who leave their territory of birth and/or citizenship and/or residence, in order to escape wars, individual or collective persecutions, climate and environmental catastrophes, as well as economic and social ones. This should in no way be placed in juxtaposition with the freedom of movement of people who do not live these conditions.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms that during the time it takes to construct these routes, everyone must respect internationally recognized rescue obligations, without conflicts of geographical jurisdiction, and without the delays that have already provoked thousands of deaths. The immediate safeguarding of those who request international protection needs to be guaranteed, starting from the first contact with the authorities of the member state, regardless of where and how this contact occurs (including in international waters or international areas).

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need to immediately suspend any practice of formal and informal refoulement at the internal and external borders of the European Union.

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for EU policies of asylum externalisation to come to a halt, as they impose responsibility for international protection on transit countries. In this perspective, even in the previously listed emergencies, people must be guaranteed the freedom of choice as regards where they seek asylum, as defined in this Charter;

- while recognizing the specificity of the routes of those who move out of necessity, 

the Charter of Lampedusa rejects criteria that regulate the verification of status and, in practice, oblige people to demonstrate the reasons for their migration in order to have access to certain rights.

The Charter of Lampedusa also calls for the establishment, in the place of arrival, of all the initiatives required to grant the immediate inclusion of those requesting international protection and of refugees into economic and social life.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need to:

- stop systems of reception based on camps and centers,

- build, instead, a shared system based on the development of decentred, widespread reception activities  in various areas around the Mediterranean and beyond.

Decentralised and founded on the enhancement of personal routes, thus promoting grassroots reception and management experiences, this shared system would also avoid giving speculative monopolies the chance to exploit and to separate hospitality from its social dimension.

The planning of initial reception, at first arrival, must consider the make up of families and relatives, preserving the continuity of parental, family and affective relations.  In this light, even in above mentioned emergencies, the right to choose, as defined in this paper, must be guaranteed and choices not be forced.

II.5-PERSONAL FREEDOM

Within the EU area and its state borders, migration policies impose a system of administrative detention for those migrants with no residence permits;

- the widespread system of confining asylum seekers in spaces which are, to all effects, detention camps, for the entire time required to process the claim for a refugee status;

- government and EU migration control policies have managed to branch out practices of detention and confinement even to non-EU member states;

- all the deaths and violence which have occurred within detention and confinement centres, on all the EU territory and in countries to which the borders control is externalized are to be denounced;

- no light has been shed on the responsibility for these deaths and violence, so they remain unpunished.

Such places serve the symbolic and policing function of criminalization as well as the legal, economic and social inferiorization of migrants;

- the squandering of public resources on this system and their distribution in the hands of subjects who speculate on migrants’ lives means there is no way these places can be reformed.

The Charter of Lampedusa affirms the need for the immediate abolition of administrative detention and the closure of all detention centres, whatever they may be called, and of all reception centres which limit freedom of movement, be they legally constituted according to an existing legislation, simple decrees or regulations, or whether they are informally established for the detention and confinement of people.

The Charter of Lampedusa calls for the redirection of resources that to date have been dedicated to such places, towards social projects for everyone.

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List of Signaturies

About the author

Nicholas De Genova is Reader in Urban Geography and Director of the Cities Research Group in the Department of Geography at King's College London. He is the author of Working the Boundaries: Race, Space, and "Illegality" in Mexican Chicago (2005), co-author of Latino Crossings: Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and the Politics of Race and Citizenship (2003), editor of Racial Transformations: Latinos and Asians Remaking the United States (2006), and co-editor of The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (2010)


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