Nicholas Farrell

The UN’s politically motivated search for human rights abuses in Italy

The UN's politically motivated search for human rights abuses in Italy
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The Evening Road

Laird Hunt

Chatto, pp. 278, £

When politicians in Europe listen to the people and actually do something to stop uncontrolled immigration, the Holy See of the Global Crusade to Abolish Countries and the White Working Class – a.k.a the United Nations - sends in the thought police.

This spring it happened in Britain when Tendayi Achiume, UN 'Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance', turned up to do a fortnight's fieldwork in order to demonstrate what she had already decided: Britain, thanks to Brexit, is a human-rights emergency in the grip of surging racism.

The war for the West is a war of words and such UN rapporteurs have a small but key role in providing the media with the words required for the constant flow of headlines necessary to win the war.

Now it is the turn of Italy, whose new populist coalition government of the radical right Lega and alt-left Five Star Movement, which is hostile to the European Union and to illegal migrants, has seen support soar to 60pc in the polls since the March general election.

Clearly – as only now we begin to see – the UN let Britain off the hook quite lightly back in April with just the one Special Rapporteur, even if she is a law professor at the University of California whose published works include 'Migration as Decolonization.'

I realise this because on Monday, the UN's new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said in her maiden speech to the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva that she is going to send an entire posse of rapporteurs to Italy to investigate this new global hot-spot of migrant human rights abuses caused by those awful populists.

In Italy's general election, the Lega got 17pc compared to the Five Star Movement's 32pc. Both, in particular the Lega, promised to stop illegal migrants masquerading as refugees from getting into Italy across the Mediterranean and to deport the 500,000 already there.

The Lega is now consistently polling at 32pc (while Five Star's support has fallen to 28pc) thanks to the Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini's decision to refuse to allow NGO vessels that ferry migrants the 300 miles across from Libya to dock in Italian ports.

It is this NGO ship ban which inspired Senora Bachelet to deploy her rapporteurs because – as she explained to her audience in Geneva - it had had 'devastating consequences.'

Unless I am missing something, the only people facing devastation as a result of Salvini's actions are those who have a vested interest in the migrant trade, such as the people traffickers and NGOs.

Not the migrants. For if a migrant cannot get to Italy by sea, however miserable his or her life, how can that be defined as devastating as long as he is not a refugee?

Only – ah yes – if you believe that his failure to make it to Europe is devastating.

But it's not, is it?

Not even for him or her.

So I did some research on Senora Bachelet.

And I have to say I do now kind of understand why Donald Trump pulled America out of the UN's Human Rights Council in June because, in the words of his UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, it has become 'a protector of human rights abusers, and a cesspool of political bias.'

Bachelet is a red-rinse Socialist Party politician who has twice been Chile's President, and had close ties to Castro's Cuba. She was a supporter of Salvador Allende – the first Marxist to become President of a South American country. When she was exiled from Chile after the 1973 Pinochet coup which ousted Allende, she chose to go, of all places - to communist East Germany.

She is a staunch defender of Nicolas Maduro, the loony-left President of Venezuela where according to the IMF the inflation rate is due to reach 1 million per cent by the end of the year - and tacitly supported his even worse predecessor, Hugo Chavez.

The UN's new human rights lefty-czar is thus in perfect symphony with people like Jeremy Corbyn, which is presumably why she has an honourary degree from Essex University.

We can be sure that it never even entered her head to send her commando unit of rapporteurs to investigate human rights abuses in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, or Bangladesh, where most of the 700,000 or so migrants ferried these past five years across the Mediterranean from North Africa into Italy come from.

Their human rights were undoubtedly abused far more gravely in their countries of origin than they ever are in Italy, especially the women, although very few of them actually are female.

Tuesday's Daily Telegraph reported Senora Bachelet as saying that the absence of NGO ships off the coast of Libya now means that there were more migrants dying at sea. It is depressing that the Daily Telegraph of all newspapers and its journalists should be complicit in such blatant fake news.

All summer, the global liberal left has been telling the world that the risk of death to migrants crossing the Mediterranean has shot up from one in 40 last year (roughly) to one in 20 this year (roughly), because of the inability of NGOs to now operate off the coast of Libya.Thanks to the dreadful Salvini, migrants are in more peril than ever. That’s the claim.

What they never say – so therefore nor does a largely sympathetic global media - is that the number of deaths has fallen dramatically.

Here are the figures (from the UN's own International Organization for Migration):

In 2016, 4,581 migrants are known to have died crossing the Central Mediterranean to Italy; in 2017, 2,832; and this year (up to August) 1,111.

In other words, migrant deaths at sea between Libya and Italy so far this year are not far short of one third less than those last year – and one quarter less than those in 2016.

Yes, the number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea this year is 80pc lower than last year which makes the deaths proportionately higher. But surely the only point is this: the fewer migrants put to sea, the fewer migrants that die.

Yet in Geneva on Monday we witnessed Bachelet — aided and abetted by reporters – morphing increased risk of death into increased deaths overall.

The mission of the UN's gang of rapporteurs in Italy will be – she announced - 'to assess the reported sharp increase in acts of violence and racism against migrants, persons of African descent and Roma (gypsies).'

There have been incidents since the populist government came to power in June of the odd Italian taking pot-shots with an air rifle at Africans. And Salvini does insist that gypsies should for the first time register their names and addresses at the town hall just like everyone else.

But really.

On Saturday Salvini released official Interior Ministry figures which show that last week in Italy 528 people were arrested, of which more than half (285) were foreigners, as were half of the 2,478 people reported to police. In Italy's jails meanwhile, nearly 20,000 prisoners – one third of the prison population – were born outside Italy. 'The more immigration there is,' he said, 'the more crime there is.' That may be an offensive thing to say. It may also be true.

Why don't the UN's rapporteurs look at the abuse of the human rights of Italians perpetrated by illegal migrants when they are next in Italy?