Documentary Dissects ‘Informal’ Italian Policy on Refugees, Migrants

Since 2015, when migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa began crossing the Balkans in significant numbers, Trieste has been a hub for those trying to reach bigger Italian cities or continue deeper into Western Europe.

The film, produced by the Padua-based collective ZaLab, follows refugees and migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, some of whom have already made it to Italy or are trying to do so, and takes a closer look at so-called 'informal readmissions'.

Based on a 1996 bilateral agreement between Italy and Slovenia, the practice was deployed heavily in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Italian police would arrest migrants and refugees who had crossed illegally into the Trieste area, process them via an accelerated procedure, and then hand them back to Slovenia. 

Slovenia sent them back to Croatia, until eventually the migrants and refugees found themselves back in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where conditions were dire.

In January 2021, an Italian court ruled the practice unlawful, but the new right-wing government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has indicated it plans to reinstate it.

"We began working on this story with the intention of reporting what had happened, but we knew that the [Italian state's] silence on the matter was significant," Segre, one of the filmmakers, told BIRN. 

"We didn't know when or if the practice would be reactivated, but the silence would have enabled anyone to restart the readmissions at any time."

'Worst thing that ever happened to me'

One of the victims of Italian 'informal readmissions' interviewed in the documentary "Trieste è bella di notte".

Filmed between Trieste and Bihac, a town in northwestern...

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