EU lawmakers rap Italy over asylum

Oct. 26, 2005 at 3:20 PM

BRUSSELS, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Rome was accused Tuesday of mistreating African migrants after EU lawmakers were shown evidence of conditions in an Italian refugee camp.

European parliamentarians meeting in Strasbourg viewed a film shot by

journalist Marco Parissone documenting how Italian authorities emptied a refugee camp before a delegation of EU deputies arrived to investigate living standards in the camp.

Speaking after the showing of the film, Bairbre de Brun, a Green member of a recent European Parliament delegation to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, said: "We were shocked by the conditions in which those detained are held. The living and sleeping conditions were atrocious, overcrowding was a major problem and medical facilities did not appear to go beyond the very basic."

This is not the first time the camp -- situated on an island 75 miles off the Libyan coast -- is in the spotlight for abusing illegal immigrants.

Earlier this month, an undercover journalist from the Italian newspaper Espresso reported on camp guards physically and verbally abusing asylum seekers. He also claimed guards would steal from the migrants. Although the Italian government rejects the reporter's claims, a Sicilian court has opened criminal investigations into the matter.

On Wednesday another 659 illegal immigrants, mainly from Eritrea, arrived at Lampedusa and Syracuse, once again filling up temporary shelters, according to Italian news agency AGI.

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