Migrants sew lips together in new protest

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The Ponte Galeria migrant centre south of Rome. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
15:54 CEST+02:00
Two men being held at a migrant centre on the outskirts of Rome have sewn their lips together in protest against the conditions at the facility. It’s only the latest example of such a protest at the centre.

Since Saturday the two migrants – from Algeria and Tunisia – have stitched their mouths shut with wire in protest against the conditions at the Ponte Galeria Centre for Identification and Expulsion (Cie), Corriere della Sera reported on Monday.

The alarm was raised by Angiolo Marroni, a state official charged with protecting prisoners' welfare in the Lazio region.

On Monday morning, the Algerian migrant, aged 28, who has been at the centre since June 3rd, attended a hearing where a judge extended his stay at the centre by 30 days.

The other man, from Tunisia, who has been at the centre since July 22nd, was previously detained for almost a month at the centre in May where he went on hunger strike in protest against the conditions at the centre and the long waiting times.

His hearing has been scheduled for the end of August.

Both migrants are without documents or residence permits and are awaiting deportation.

The incident comes almost six months after a similar protest at the centre in which thirteen Moroccan immigrants sewed their mouths shut. 

The men, aged between 20 and 30, had already stitched their mouths shut in a week-long protest in December over their long stay in a supposedly short-term detention facility.

Quoted by Corriere della Sera on Monday, Luigi Manconi, President for the Commission of Human Rights said: “Identification and Expulsion Centres must be closed. Immigrants are protesting the rule that provides the expulsion of foreign nationals from Italy who have also served their sentences, and living conditions in migrant camps.”

Speaking to The Local last year, Moroccan-born Italian MP Khalid Chaouki said Rome's Ponte Galeria centre was "like Guantanamo”, referring to the US detention centre in Cuba where terrorism suspects have been held for years without trial.

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“There are cages out in the open more than six metres where you would keep dogs,” Chaouki added. 

READ MORE: 'Migrants are treated like dogs': Italian MP

The heavily guarded detention centre, located near Rome's Fiumicino airport to facilitate deportations currently houses 86 men and 38 women, according to Ansa.

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