The Integration Agreement: the Italian Government introduces yet another racial law
After the xenophobic security law and the special ethnic regulations in Roma settlements, the government is about to introduce the “residence permit by point-system”. This is a serious violation of human rights that must be immediately stigmatized and corrected by the international political and legal institutions.
Rome, February 6th, 2010. The alchemy which allows the centre-right to remain in power in Italy lies at the root of a political, civil and legal aberration. In order to survive, the present majority needs the support and backing of the Northern League - the anti-immigration, anti-minority, anti-southern Italy and anti-European party. In this sick climate, in which democratic laws are continually ignored and human and civil rights trampled on, the Northern League is free to dictate laws and measures against immigration which are automatically approved (despite criticism from civil society) without them being validated by the Constitution.
For years the Northern League has been the protagonist of xenophobic and anti-ziganist campaigns. It is no coincidence that a total of thirty-six of its exponents (including the Mayor of Treviso) have been committed for trial by the Preliminary Hearing Judge of Verona and accused of “forming an armed band”.
The defendants include the top Northern League politicians: Umberto Bossi, Roberto Maroni, and Roberto Calderoli. We must also remember that several Lega Nord leaders (like the deputy mayor of Treviso, Giancarlo Gentilini) have been charged and found guilty of racism or assault. Not to mention Mario Borghezio, who was found guilty of “aggravated arson for reasons of discrimination”. Racist and violent gangs who make use of the Legal Nord name and proclamations are rife in Italy: our human rights activists themselves have been targeted by these groups and have also received death threats.
In October 2008, Senator Bodega, the spokesman for the Northern League, announced through the press that his party was about to put to the government for its approval, a “residence permit by point system” reserved for foreign citizens. The permit foresees a series of objectives - starting with a home and employment – which will allow the immigrants to remain in Italy.
When, on March 23rd and 24th last year, the leaders of EveryOne Group met the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini, and the Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of the Interior, Alfredo Mantovano, in Rome they were given the promise that Italy would never approve and issue such an undemocratic law. But less than a year has gone by and the government is preparing to approve and ratify a “residence permit by point system” law, which will be known as the “Integration Agreement” law.
Yesterday, the Ministers of the Interior and Welfare announced the imminent introduction of this anti-foreigner law. Next week Roberto Maroni and Maurizio Sacconi will present the decree to the Council of Ministers. People applying for a resident permit for the first time will now have to sign this agreement which contains a series of obligations . Among these requirements is the obligation to have a home with characteristics that are almost impossible to comply to; steady employment in a period when thousands of qualified Italians are losing their jobs; the ability to speak Italian; possession of a National Health Service card, and a knowledge of the Italian Constitution. “Only yesterday,” said Maroni, “we were debating the regulations that envisage the signing of the Integration Agreement when the residence permit is issued.
This is the “security law” that sets out specific aims to be respected in the space of two years, the results of which are to be evaluated by the Immigration Counter. If the objectives have been reached then the person will be granted a residence permit, if not he or she will be expelled from the country. In this way we will guarantee full integration. In other words: I will tell you what you have to do in order to integrate into our society.
If you fulfill the obligations, then I will issue you with a residence permit, if you don't, then that means you don't want to integrate. We will only be applying this law to those applying for new permits. For the courses in the Italian language and culture, we will not be asking the immigrants for money, we will organize them ourselves in order to guarantee a uniform standard in all the regions and have everything under our control.” Sacconi added “the agreement lays out the immigrant's rights and duties: which are, as well as a knowledge of the language, the possession of a National Health card, 12 years' basic education, and transparent rent contracts”.
At the end of the two-year period the immigrant will have to have scored 30 points, which he or she will be assigned through exams in the Italian language, civic formation, historical culture, and the Constitution. If he commits a crime, points will be taken off. If after two years, the immigrant has not totalled a “score” of 30, he may be granted another year but after that he will be expelled from the country - even if he has a wife and children here or the lives of his family back in his homeland depend on his earnings here.
It is obvious that this new xenophobic law will bring about further conditions of irregularity, serious cases of blackmail from employers or those who rent out property to foreigners. The thousands of cases of slavery or those forced to prostitute themselves - already institutionalized in Italy by the “safety package” (94/2009) - will be aggravated and increased out of all proportion.
We cannot but agree with Giancarlo Bressa, (leader of the PD's parliamentary group for the Constitutional Affairs Commission in the Chamber), when he said: “Being a foreigner in Italy means being subjected to a scandalous social lottery in which the judges cheat right from the beginning. We are the most xenophobic country in Europe. A fine result, my compliments to Maroni and Sacconi”.
From a legal point of view, this “residence by point system” is an ethnic measure and therefore represents a further breach of human dignity and the individual's fundamental rights contained in the Charter of Nice (art. 1) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Preamble and art. 1). All citizens in a democracy, must be equal before the law, in that they are human beings (the equality between citizen and foreigner is based on precise articles of the Constitution: no. 2. (The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable human rights, 3 (equal social status) and 10, 2 (legal status of foreigners). Creating a special law for the right to reside in Italy is clearly illegal, because the rights and duties of the individual, without distinction, are already sanctioned by the laws in force.
As for people's rights, they must be the same for everyone. Article 2 of the Constitution rules that “The Republic recognises and guarantees the inviolable human rights” where “human” cannot only be intended to be “citizen” because there are international laws that regulate human rights - in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948, and the European Union's Charter of Human Rights.
The Constitutional Court has also established on several occasions that foreigners are protected by fundamental rights and that these rights concern the individual as such - again based on the articles laid down by the Constitution.
The introduction of special laws (like the “security package”), the regulations for ethnic groups (such as the “sociality pact” for the Roma people who live in conditions of authentic apartheid in ghetto-camps), and now the new “Integration Agreement” represent serious violations of human and civil rights that must be stigmatized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the EU institutions. and immediately quashed by Italian and International courts.