Interview. 'We need facts, we need a turn regarding material needs and rights. That’s the only way people will be willing to believe in the PD project.'

Laura Boldrini: End the security decree and move the PD to the left

Laura Boldrini was president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies until 2018, and from 1998 to 2012 she was the top spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We spoke to her about Libya and the Salvini “security decree.”

Ms. Boldrini, the Italy-Libya memorandum on immigration is being renewed these days. There is still time for the government to change the text. Do you believe it will?

On Libya, there was a lot of wasted time. In November, there was a question time at the Chamber of Deputies. I worked so that there could be a drastic change made to the text. In a way, the memorandum could have served as a framework for a radical change in policy. The government committed to it. But very little has happened since then. 

In the meantime, everything has changed in Libya: the war has become regional in scope and waged by proxy; we have seen a constant violation of the arms embargo; civilian casualties have increased; detained migrants have died from bombings; the UN has called for the closure of the detention centers; the UNHCR has withdrawn from Tripoli for security reasons; and, finally, the EC Commissioner for Human Rights has asked Italy to immediately suspend the agreement with the Libyan Coast Guard. 

Why doesn’t the government take any notice? The memorandum was conceived three years ago, when there was no war and all these soldiers and paramilitaries were not in play. As it is, not only is it unacceptable, but it is also rendered obsolete by the events and history.

Do you believe Di Maio?

The government committed to changing the text three months ago. Italy must promote a political initiative with both European and non-European partners. We must aim to close the detention centers, as the UN has asked, and start the humanitarian evacuation of migrants. We must enhance monitoring at sea to save lives, as today only the NGOs are there. And then, we need to restart the Sophia mission to enforce the arms embargo. We need an EU special envoy.

Speaking of NGOs, the charges against the volunteers are being dropped.

This demonstrates Salvini’s unscrupulous exploitation of immigration and of the Salvini Decree 2.0. An exploitation for political purposes. He has implemented initiatives that violate the principles of international law and of our Constitution.

As regards the security decrees, they are preparing, very late, to make a few changes.

The first decree is doing enormous damage. It has removed the possibility of registration as residents at the local municipality for asylum seekers, it has excluded everyone from the SPRAR centers except for those who have already been granted international protection, it has cancelled humanitarian refugee protection, throwing thousands of people into illegality. It has dismantled the small part of the integration system that actually worked, only to create insecurity and chaos. The second decree raises the bar of inhumanity even further, and aims to subvert the principles of national and international law. Because maritime law mandates the rescue of those in distress, while in our country, those who are performing rescues risk having their ship confiscated and paying fines of up to one million euros. It’s a topsy-turvy world. The fines should be waived entirely, not reduced.

Salvini may go on trial for kidnapping the people on the Gregoretti ship. But now he’s saying that Minister Lamorgese should also be tried, as she is keeping people on ships as well.

Persons who are rescued must be disembarked immediately, before an agreement on the redistribution operations.

In November, in Bologna, Secretary Zingaretti invoked the ius culturae (the proposed reform of the Italian citizenship system which would grant citizenship to the children of foreigners at the age of 12, instead of the current 18, if they have been educated in Italian schools –—which then disappeared from the conclusions of the PD meeting in Rieti, which approved the checklist for the government. Is that a step back?

In Contigliano, at the round table on citizenship, many of us talked about the ius culturae as well as the need to free ourselves from Salvini’s legacy. In the last legislature, citizenship reform foundered in the Senate. The 800,000 young people and the many lay and Catholic associations who had believed in it were disappointed and betrayed. Now that we are in government, we cannot fail again, as we risk losing all credibility. 

There are three bills waiting to be discussed in committee [the Boldrini, Orfini and Polverini bills], and the M5S should also present their own. We need to move straight from words to action. Likewise regarding the Bossi-Fini law: it must be repealed. 

But the resurgence of government action must go even further. The social groups neglected by the yellow-green government should be placed at the center: the women who challenged Salvini are now expecting solutions. We need an extraordinary plan for women’s employment. In Italy, less than 50% of women are working. And for young people: they must be brought out of the world of precarious work, and rent subsidies should be awarded to students and to those who want to live independently. The costs could be covered by reinstating the IMU municipal asset tax on the first homes of the very wealthy.

What is the re-foundation that the PD is preparing for?

I’m not a PD member. I joined their caucus in the Chamber of Deputies to give them a hand—in the face of the worst right that has ever been, we cannot be disunited. However, change must be given substance. We need facts, we need a turn regarding material needs and rights. That’s the only way people will be willing to believe in the PD project. The tax wedge, the abolition of the superticket and free daycare are a start. It is necessary to go further.

When anyone mentions a “left turn,” half of the PD heads for the hills.

Fighting inequalities in the progressive realm should be of interest to everyone. Because these have a social and economic impact as well, in addition to the ethical one, which should already be enough. Redistributing wealth and making investments into work is a demand that is coming even from Davos nowadays.

There was one femicide per day last week. It’s a fact that leaves us speechless.

It’s an ongoing massacre that doesn’t even make the news anymore. There is an enormous problem of the devaluation of the feminine, wherever you look. From Sanremo to the RAI news, where female politicians are highlighted immeasurably less than men. From the workplace all the way to political representation. We need widespread efforts in schools, awareness campaigns, we need to close the unacceptable wage gap. The right is investing in patriarchy, the left must be feminist. The difference compared to the previous obscurantist government must also be made here, more than anywhere else.

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