“If I died I would like my body to be taken to Africa, my mother would be happy.” It is the writing in French left on the wall, probably with a cigarette butt, by a 22-year-old Guinean who hanged himself last night from the external grating of his sector in the CPR of Ponte Galeria, on the outskirts of Rome. Words that reveal desperation for a betrayed dream, that of a better life. The reality was instead that of months-long imprisonment. It has become unacceptable. “The Italian soldiers don't understand anything apart from money. I miss Africa a lot and my mother too, she mustn't cry for me. Peace to my soul, may I rest in peace” , the message continues. And two more suicides have been recorded in prison: there have been 15 deaths behind bars since the beginning of the year, excluding migrants.
The suicide caused a revolt among the guests of the facility, with the wounding of two policemen and an army soldier. The riots – with the throwing of stones, the attempt to set fire to a car and the attempt to break down a door – were quelled by the police, also with the use of tear gas. He attacks the opposition, which is calling for the closure of the Centre, which has always been at the center of controversy due to its conditions. And he is not the only one: yesterday a protest was registered in the CPR of Gradisca d'Isonzo (Gorizia), where a migrant fell from the roof and ended up in hospital in serious conditions. A couple of weeks ago the one in Milo (Trapani) was devastated by guests. Two other repatriation facilities were also at the center of judicial investigations, those in Milan and Palazzo San Gervasio (Potenza).
Last year the Interior Minister, Matteo Piantedosi, announced a plan to create a CPR in every region. But the list of sites was never communicated, while the Government is focusing on the agreement with Albania to lighten the Italian reception system.
“There is no need to wait for investigations to be able to say that places like Ponte Galeria are totally inhumane. There was no need to wait for the death of a young boy to say that these places must be closed”, states the guarantor of the prisoners of Rome, Valentina Calderone, who rushed to the facility in the morning together with parliamentarians Cecilia D'Elia (Pd) and Riccardo Magi (+Europe). “We – said D'Elia – are all shocked by the boy's death. It is surreal. The conditions are terrible. Ponte Galeria must be closed. We had already visited it at the end of July and had reported the terrible conditions. This episode suicidal boy must put an end to this CPR.” Magi defines the centers as “black holes of law and humanity” and informs that the young man “had arrived a few days ago from the center of Trapani, where he had been since mid-October. On Friday he had been seen desperate by some operators. He was crying, he reported who wanted to return to his country because he had two little brothers to take care of there, otherwise they would suffer from hunger. He was heartbroken, desperate about this. He left a portrait of himself on the wall, with a text underneath in which he wrote that he couldn't resist more and hoped that his soul would rest in peace.” And even in prisons the death count continues: since the beginning of the year there have been almost one suicide every two days.
In Montorio, in the province of Verona – where five inmates killed themselves in three months – a Ukrainian prisoner hanged himself; he had already tried to kill himself a month ago and had recently been released from the psychiatric ward. The second case in Carinola prison, in the province of Caserta, where a 58-year-old disabled prisoner hanged himself. Overcrowding in institutions is under scrutiny, with over 60,000 people squeezed in against a capacity of around 47,500 places. “We can and sometimes must resort to alternative measures”, said Minister Carlo Nordio, explaining that it is also necessary to “impact preventive detention, which for many defendants, later acquitted, proved to be unjustified”.
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