‘Without Papers’: Lampedusa and Christmas island

[Publisher’s Note: There is a reference in the story below to an agreement between Italy and Libya in June 2008, claiming that millions were paid by Berlusconi government for Gaddafi to turn back refugees fleeing Libya to Italy and beyond.

Note that there was an agreement signed at that time which Reuters reported was ‘an accord on Saturday under which Italy will pay $5 billion in compensation for colonial misdeeds during its decades-long rule of the North African country.

Regardless of the terms of the agreement, contrast the humanitarian crisis in 2015 with 2008.

A crisis that has grown since the NATO bombing of Libya, the ousting of Gaddaffi and the instability and poverty that has resulted. Yet governments of US, Britain, France and Australia still persist with others to seek a solution to the Syrian crisis by bombing that country.
Ian Curr, Sept 2015]


Without Papers – refugees and asylum seekers at the gate of Europe (2009) is a short film that includes the experience of people arriving in Italy by boat.

Without Papers shows similarities and differences to Christmas Island. Until June 2008 they were taken to the reception centre on Lampedusa and then transferred within a week to the mainland to accommodation while their claims are processed.

There, they  are not locked up but live in the community. You will notice that they are not interviewed for 24 hours  after arrival on the basis that they are too traumatised.

On Christmas Island people are interviewed on arrival by Immigration and the Australian Federal police and then put in “separation detention” .

The other difference is that while Christmas Island is called a ‘Reception and  Immigration Processing Centre’, meaning that people remain in detention there while their claims are processed.

After June 2008, the Italian leader Berlusconi paid millions of dollars to Libyan leader Gaddafi and agreed that boats would be turned back and that the people be handed to Libyan authorities were they are locked up in prisons in inhuman conditions.

Investigators have reported that abuse is rampant.

VIDEO: “Without Papers” – Refugees and Asylum Seekers at the Gate of Europe 17/11/2009

Pamela Curr
Campaign Coordinator
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
12 Batman st West Melbourne 3003
ph 03 9326 6066 / 0417517075

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