Left-wing activists have marched through Rome in solidarity with migrants, as ministers from the G8 countries concluded a meeting on migration, security and terrorism.
Thousands of demonstrators, including many immigrants, waved banners denouncing the G8 summit and President Silvio Berlusconi’s drive to lock up and fine migrants deemed to be illegal – and anyone who helps them find a home.
Protesters chanted: ‘We are all illegal migrants’ and shouted slogans demanding ‘papers for all.’
They accused G8 leaders of being completely out of touch.
Marcher Marco Paolini said: ‘I am here to protest against the government’s politics dealing with the immigration issue and to protest against the G8 organisation, which is formed by a few powerful people who are unable to hear the voice of billions of people living on this planet.’
Another protester at Saturday’s march announced that campaigners ‘will try to dismantle and destroy the fascistic security package after the G8 summit.’
Italian MPs recently endorsed a so-called security package which includes harsh immigration laws, which criminalise illegal migration and penalise culprits with hefty fines and jail terms.
They also enable municipalities to set up local ‘citizen patrols’ in order to ‘monitor’ migrants.
And they introduce penal codes requiring civil servants to pass information on people suspected of being illegal immigrants to officials.
Critics have blasted the legislation, which has been likened to the policies of former Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
On Friday, EU justice and security commissioner Jacques Barrot repeated his criticism of Rome’s recent decision to immediately deport migrants intercepted on the voyage across the Mediterranean from Libya, pointing out that it did not distinguish between illegal migrants and those deserving asylum.
At the G8 summit, interior ministers discussed closer co-operation in fighting organised crime and proposed closer police co-operation on fighting piracy.
In a session on cyber-crime, ministers agreed on a G8 blacklist of internet sites displaying child pornography.
They also discussed tackling online identity theft and monitoring the use of social networking by criminal and terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, an ex-boyfriend of an 18-year-old woman at the heart of a scandal involving Mr Berlusconi has apologised for having fuelled speculation about a presumed relationship between the two.
Italian daily Corriere della Sera ran what it said was a letter from ex-boyfriend Gino Flaminio yesterday, in which he said there never could have been a sexual relationship between the premier and Noemi Letizia ‘knowing Noemi and her values.’
Last week, the La Repubblica quoted Mr Flaminio as saying that Mr Berlusconi had invited Ms Letizia to his Sardinian villa for a week over New Year, fuelling rumours of a possible relationship between the young model and Mr Berlusconi, particularly after his wife cited his presence at Ms Letizia’s 18th birthday party in announcing that she was to file for divorce.
Demonstrators demand global citizenship rights from the G8, whose leaders are in Rome for a summit on immigration, security and terrorism