Alessandra is located in southern Italy. After graduating from UEA in 2019, she moved back to her hometown where she spends her time writing, chilling with her cats and taking care of her plants. She writes about migratory fluxes across the Mediterranean and anything else she cares about.
Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a small town in the southern Italian region of Campania. A few weeks ago, prison surveillance videos emerged showing guards brutally attacking prisoners after inmate protests took place in April 2020. The footage is proof not only of the abuse of power that takes place in silence in Italian prisons every day, but it also highlights the urgent need for Italy to reevaluate its penal system. Despite being sparked by demands for better Covid protection and testing, last Spring’s protests were a culmination of longstanding issues which have characterised the Italian judicial and penal system for too long; from lack of basic hygiene standards to a general slowness in judicial processes – not to mention the extreme levels of violence perpetrated by prison guards.
In the past few months, Italy has witnessed lengthy debates concerning a new anti-discrimination bill due to be passed by the Senate. Named the ‘Zan’ Bill after deputy Alessandro Zan, who proposed it, the bill’s main resolution is to criminalise hate speech. The proposition is to expand an existing law against racial, ethnic or religious discrimination, so that is also covers discrimination based on gender, sexuality and disability.
Last month Italian Prime Minister and former European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, took his first trip abroad since he assumed office. He chose to visit Libya, and met with Libyan president Abdel Hamid Mohamed Dbeibeh to discuss the countries’ economic ties and cooperation on tackling irregular immigration. During his visit, Draghi congratulated the Libyan government on their work over recent years in stemming the movement of migrants who leave Libya’s coast in hope of finding refuge in Europe. The truth is, and as many investigations have shown, Libya’s ‘rescue missions’ out at sea often result in the transportation of people to Libyan detention camps notorious for their human rights violations.
In recent years, Italy has undergone enormous internal change as a result of mass immigration from sub-Saharan African countries. The situation has been exploited and manipulated from every angle by the Italian media, politicians and organised crime gangs, fostering hostility towards migrant labourers as well as fuelling their exploitation. Right-wing political elites are adept at harnessing the power of social media to influence the masses; but this is a tactic that needn’t be irreplicable for social justice movements and activists on the Left, too.