“"I said that I wanted to ask for asylum, but they pretended not to hear me".”

  • Date and time: February 14, 2021 00:00
  • Location: Bari, Italy
  • Coordinates: 41.1327435, 16.8668087
  • Pushback from: Italy
  • Pushback to: Greece
  • Demographics: 1 person(s), age: 22 , from: Afghanistan
  • Minors involved? No
  • Violence used: no violence used
  • Police involved: Four italian policemen, 1 police car
  • Taken to a police station?: yes
  • Treatment at police station or other place of detention: fingerprints taken, personal information taken, papers signed, no translator present
  • Was the intention to ask for asylum expressed?: Yes
  • Reported by: No Name Kitchen

Original Report

The respondent, a 22-year-old Afghan man, claimed that he arrived in Italy in the morning of the 14th of February.

He described that prior to this, he had entered a vessel in the new port of Patras (Greece), that was bound for the Italian port of Bari. During the interview, he described the ship as a ‘Superfast ferry’, distinguishable from others because of its color and the duration of the trip, shorter than other ships’ journey.

He left Greece with just a small bottle of water and no food.

The boat arrived to Bari after sixteen hours, the respondent was tired and thirsty, and claimed having no knowledge of the port of arrival.

The port of Patras, where the respondent began his journey

Despite his condition of mental and physical fatigue, he decided to continue hiding, in order to reach a safe place.

Once in Bari, he continued his journey hiding under the truck. Not long after the vehicle began driving again, it stopped near a park, where it remained for a long time. The respondent was not able to explain where this park was, but he described that it was not far from the port.

While the truck was parked there, the respondent decided to exit the vehicle in order to buy a bottle of water and drink it at the park.

During this time, the respondent was approached by four Italian police officers. According to the respondent, the authorities were suspicious because of his physical appearance since he was dressed in black and considerably dirty after the long journey.

When the authorities asked for his identity card, the respondent showed his identification papers from Afghanistan. It was also his intention to request asylum in Italy. After this, the authorities decided to search the respondent in the middle of the park, at which point they found his white card -the document that people receive when they ask for asylum in Greece.

Once the police found the respondent’s Greek document, he was transported to a nearby police station, accompanied by the policemen. Here, according to the respondent, he was detained for a ‘surprisingly short time, less than one hour’, during which time the police did not explain to him what was happening.

According to the respondent, the only conversation that they had was when the officers asked him why he was in Italy, a question that he could not answer as he was unable to speak English.

While they were at the police station, they took his fingerprints and forced him to sign some papers that he was not able to understand, and without the help of any translator.

“I said that I wanted to ask for asylum in Italy, but they pretended not to hear me”.

He reportedly did not receive any response from the policemen after he expressed his intention to ask for asylum. Instead, after signing the documents and taking his fingerprints, he was brought back to the port of Bari, where he was forced to get into the first ship leaving back to Patras.

When he arrived in Greece, he was released without further incident. The respondent reported that he then managed to go directly to one of the factories in front of the port.

During the interview, the respondent underlined repeatedly the denial of any kind of dialogue during the time that he spent at the Italian police station. He understood that the intention of the officers was to proceed with a pushback to Greece, but they refused to explain him anything, taking advantage of his inability to speak English and of the absence of a translator. He described trying to ask for an explanation of what was happening, without receiving any answer. He still does not know the content of the documents that he was forced to sign.