Independence is our main value. From the beginning we have always fought to act independently of governments and international institutions. Our independence enables us to fight for the most vulnerable. Too often, their rights are denied and their screams for help are silenced.
Our condemnation of the powers that fail to provide for children and our advocacy of their betterment are fundamental parts of our fight to give back to those who have been deprived of their human rights.
On 12th of June 2019, in collaboration with Help Refugees UK, we filed an official lawsuit to the district attorney’s office of Samos, Greece, against the management of the reception and identification center of the island. The lawsuit condemned the management’s violation of the human rights of unaccompanied minors living in the camp. This was the first time in the history of the Samos hotspot that an NGO took legal action against the managers of a system that has been abusing the weakest for too long.
The lawsuit is built on evidence provided by the children who attended our youth center in a two-year period and on written declarations from our staff members and volunteers. Images, videos and testimonies reveal a shocking reality of psychological, physical and emotional abuses on unaccompanied minors living in the camp.
These include: involuntary and intentional brutalities by the police; fights; overcrowded containers with degrading living conditions; and children living in tents during the cold winter months and without clothes, health assistance, and formal education. Our lawsuit also denounced the authorities for the separation of two unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors are the most vulnerable individuals living in the camp and the management should be legally obliged to keep them safe during their permanence. However, this does not happen, resulting in inhumane living conditions for the minors and causing for many depression, self-harming behaviors, long lasting psychological damages and, in some cases, suicide attempts.
On July 22nd 2019, Pietro Bartolo, Vice President of the Commission for the Civil freedoms, Justice and Internal Affairs, presented a parliamentary question to the European Parliament on behalf of both Still I Rise and the unaccompanied minors that we serve.
Bartolo asked the Commission the following questions:
On September 12th 2019, a second parliamentary question with a request for a written reply was presented by Rosa d’Amato, Laura Ferrara and Isabella Adinolfi, who asked to the EU Commission:
On October 29th 2019, Angela Schirò and Lia Quartapelle Procopio submitted a parliamentary question to the Ministry for European Affairs of Italian Parliament to ask the position of government into EU about the situation in Samos and our criminal complaint.
On December 24th 2019, the European Court of Human Rights granted interim measures to safeguard the physical and psychological integrity of five unaccompanied minor refugees on the island of Samos, Greece, following the case presented by the legal section of Greek Council for Refugees (GRC), with the support of our NGO, ASGI and the support of Médicins Sans Frontières. The proceeding invoked art. 39 – Interim Measures – of the Rules of procedure at the European Court.
For the first time it focuses on the living conditions of unaccompanied minors living on Samos: the Greek government must now transfer them to an appropriate shelter for unaccompanied minors, in compliance with art. 3 of the European convention of Human Rights, which enshrines the prohibition of torture and degrading treatment.
We involved denounce the continuing inhuman situation in which the UAM live on the island of Samos, with devastating physical and psychological consequences: the long permanence in the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) and in the unauthorized camp represents a real risk of fatal damage for the lives of these children.
The Court's decision sets a strong precedent and opens the way for new battles for the rights of refugee children in Samos.
In 2019, the municipality of Offida autonomously organised the first Italian council based humanitarian corridor by greeting a Syrian family who escaped from war, thus giving mother, father and their 4 years old child a safe future. Still I Rise has launched a petition to ask for each of the 7904 Italian councils to follow Offida’s example and open humanitarian corridors to offer war-affected children a way out from the hotspot nightmare.
42.000 human beings are trapped in EU funded camps. 56% of them are women and children; 6 out of 10 refugee children are under 12 year old; 14% of them are unaccompanied.
Suffocating overcrowding, scabies, the girls’ fear to get raped in their own tents, and the widespread sense of abandonment that pushes even minors towards committing suicide. This is the tragic snap-shot of European hotspots which, instead of offering protection to minors fleeing from violence, are now proper despair factories. Opening council based, autonomous humanitarian corridors is the next necessary step and it can be done and managed autonomously by each individual council.We cannot help every single refugee, but we can at least help the minors who already are on European land to offer them a decent life. In this endless crisis, the only point of view that counts is the one nobody is talking about: the innocent victims’.