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‘Many Nigerian migrants detained in Italy without trial’

A lawyer and human rights campaigner, Mr Lucky Aghedo, has expressed worry at the alleged detention without trial, of some Nigerian migrants in Italy. Aghedo…

A lawyer and human rights campaigner, Mr Lucky Aghedo, has expressed worry at the alleged detention without trial, of some Nigerian migrants in Italy.

Aghedo expressed the concern in a statement in Lagos on Saturday.

He said that some Nigerian and other African migrants had been in custody in Italy over the years without trial while others had been serving long sentences.

“According to an Italian local newspaper, Gazzetta di Reggio’s report on April 27, 2022, no fewer than 36 Nigerians of Niger Delta origin, were arrested on grounds of different allegations ranging from credit card fraud to cultism, termed mafia in Italy.

“Since this widely publicised mass and coordinated arrest, as others had previously been detained, the suspects have not been tried.

“Most unfortunately, these inmates lack a basic understanding of the language and resources for legal aid.

“Mafia cases are similar to terrorism charges, which carry lengthier sentences,” the lawyer said.

He said that while some elements of criminal involvement could not be denied for some of the detainees, others were likely innocent.

“These innocent parties have regular and permanent jobs, and they may have been roped in due to certain association; hence, these cases should be judged on individual merits rather than place all suspects and detainees under one straight jacket,” he argued.

The rights activist added that detaining those who might be complicit, for a prolonged period without trial, breached fundamental human rights.

He urged that in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 5, Section 1 C and 3, the suspects should be tried speedily or released if there was nothing incriminating to warrant their detention.

“Prevention of crime is justification for arrest and restraint of liberties. However, there ought to be a structure for suspects to be tried conclusively within a reasonable time.”

According to Aghedo, some Nigerian migrants had also since been alleged to be carrying out cultism in Italy, flashing machetes and other dangerous weapons of intimidation.

The rights activist said that the Italian Government ‘rained down on them with a heavy hand’.

Aghedo alleged that the system allowed some migrants residence permits, mostly through the asylum process, but failed to create a system integration process, as obtainable in some other countries.

“Hence, many migrants resort to hawking, begging and other anti-social behaviours to the chagrin of host communities.

“One must take cognisance of the trauma and scars borne by many of the survivors of the dangerous crossings and trafficking.”

The lawyer said that the survivors ought to have received counselling or therapy to heal their damaged psychology. (NAN)