Student Insight: Human Rights


May 6, 2015

Alessandra Scafuri, a law student, studying in Rome, Italy with Roma Tre University shares with us her written work for the course, Human Rights in Historical Perspective. This course is part of the Arcadia in Rome program, and taught at our Arcadia Rome Center by Prof. Stefania Gialdroni.

An Announced Tragedy

The Deadliest Shipwreck Ever in the Mediterranean Sea

On Saturday, April 18, a boat with more than 700 migrants who were trying to reach Italy capsized in Mediterranean waters, north of Libya. The dynamics of the event are still unsure. According to the Italian Coast Guard, 28 survivors and 24 bodies have been recovered. In my opinion, this is an announced tragedy, like it happened two years ago. We have said too many times “never again” but it wasn’t true because nobody did something to avoid this carnage. There are too many responsibilities of the International community, as Pope Francis said. Italy and its people are always ready to preserve the migrants, although the European Court of Human Rights has condemned our country for the safeguard conditions. Italy is guilty, but it isn’t the only one.

Where is the European Union? Where are the European leaders?

The French President Hollande has called for an emergency meeting of the European Council as soon as possible, but only after this tragedy. Pope Francis said that “These are men and women like us, our brothers seeking a better life, starving, persecuted, wounded, exploited, victims of war. They were looking for a better life.” Carlotta Sami, spokesperson of the UNHCR - United Nation Agency for Refugees - said that rescue means are inadequate and that the European Union must create a permanent operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Everybody says that the Operation Mare Nostrum shouldn’t have been stopped by the Italian authorities. However, we need a new European operation to preserve migrants’ lives.

The tragedy brought strong reactions in Italy, including calls for a broader European effort to address the growing problem of migrants setting off on frequently deadly journeys from Libya, where central authority has collapsed. The European border protection operation, Triton, has been criticized as insufficient and falling short of previous search-and-rescue missions. An Italian search-and-rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, was stopped last year, mostly for financial reasons. Some right-wing parties in Italy also argued that the mission encouraged migrants to set sail.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that Europe was witnessing “systematic slaughter in the Mediterranean.”

I don’t know if something could change now, but of course it should. An international project of immigration policies is necessary and, above all, the international authorities have to eliminate illegal boats organized by criminals.

Rome, 19/04/2015
Alessandra Scafuri
Course: Human Rights in Historical Perspective
Arcadia University – Rome Center