Steve Scherer, Yahoo! News, December 17, 2015
Some 200 mostly Eritrean migrants protested against asylum rules on the island of Lampedusa on Thursday as the European Union steps up pressure on frontline countries to enforce the regulations.
A video posted on a Sicilian news site showed a group of men, women and children wearing jackets and winter hats marching along the island’s cactus-lined roads and chanting in front of city hall.
“We are human beings! No fingerprints! We want freedom! We want to move from the camps! Italia respect our rights!” they shouted in English. Some also carried signs in both English and Italian. One read: “We are refugees. No fingerprints”.
Humanitarian organization Arci in Sicily said some of the protesters had been on the island for more than a month, held there because they had refused to give their fingerprints as EU law requires. Some have also begun hunger strikes, it said.
European law says migrants must stay in the country where they first enter the bloc, and that is determined by where they give their fingerprints. Until recently, most migrants have simply refused to be identified, moving north from Greece and Italy by foot, train or bus.
“The migrants are aware that the procedure to identify them would impede their journey toward the European countries where they have large communities and, often, their families,” said Erasmo Palazzotto, a lawmaker for the small left-wing SEL party.