On 8 June, a charge of attempted rape brought by Ms Joy N against chief of police inspector Vittorio Addesso of Milan CIE (Centre for Identification and Expulsion) Detention Centre in Italy, will be heard in court.
In August 2009, Mr Addesso tried to rape Ms Joy N, a young Nigerian woman, while she slept in the detention centre he runs. Her cellmate and three other women intervened and stopped the rape.
The director of the detention centre Massimo Chiodini, from the Red Cross (which runs many detention centres throughout Italy), witnessed the attempted rape but later in court denied seeing anything.
A few days later there was an uprising in the detention centre against Prime Minister Berlusconi’s “Pachetto di Sicurezza” which brought in increasingly repressive immigration laws. Ms Joy N and the women detainees who had stopped the rape were targeted, beaten while naked by guards, and along with other detainees, put in prison for six months for rioting. One of the men imprisoned for this uprising committed suicide.
Ms Joy N is a victim of trafficking. She worked as a hairdresser in Nigeria and came to Italy to get a job but was captured and forced to work in the sex industry. The Nigerian Embassy has colluded with the Italian authorities and authorised her deportation. If Ms Joy N is deported she will face certain death by her traffickers, who have already killed three of her family members.
Ms Joy N said “I’m glad for all the international support we are getting about what is happening to us in this deportation camp. I’ve been suffering in here for one year. It is a very bad place, when I’m sick they take me to hospital for treatment but they don’t tell me what’s wrong or what they are injecting me with. The authorities are trying to destroy my life, they know that most of my family were killed by the people who trafficked me here, yet they want to deport me. But I refuse to give up. They should release me now.”
We are familiar with the sexism, racism and brutality of detention centres. Some of us went on hunger strike for up to six weeks to protest against indefinite detention and conditions in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. As asylum seekers, including women who have been in detention, immigrants and non-immigrants, and people of colour living in the UK we support Ms Joy N and her demands:
· A residence permit and the protection Ms Joy N is entitled to as a victim of trafficking.
· If found guilty, Vittorio Addesso to face a sentence which takes into consideration his abuse of power and the seriousness of the offence.
· The immediate sacking of Massimo Chiodini, the Red Cross director of the detention centre, for failing in his duties to protect vulnerable people in his care and lying in court.
· An immediate investigation into widespread reports of rape and violence in detention centres, and an end to illegal deportations.
Black Women’s Rape Action Project firstname.lastname@example.org