Mayor of Palermo to launch global human rights charter during Goldsmiths visit

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A leading campaigner is to launch a pioneering human rights manifesto at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Leoluca Orlando, the Mayor of Palermo, Sicily, will present the International Human Mobility Charter of Palermo 2015 as part of his lecture entitled “Genocides versus Human Rights”.  

The launch is part of Goldsmiths’ response to the humanitarian crisis.

The charter is being presented in the UK for the first time. It calls for a fundamental change in the treatment of displaced people by allowing freedom of movement for all.

It says: “We need to change approach: from migration as suffering to mobility as an inalienable human right.”

Written in response to the ongoing refugee crisis, the charter calls for the abolition of the residence permit alongside a raft of changes in European legislation.

It calls for European law and practice to be “substantially modified” to help ease the suffering of refugees. This would include simplification of legislation around employment, housing, healthcare and citizenship.

It also says that recent EU proposals on allowing legal entry to “qualified talents” and the outsourcing of asylum to outside the continent “cannot be accepted”.

The charter states: “Mobility must be recognized as an inalienable human right.

“Everything else, including the concept of ‘security’, too many times and improperly invoked, must be coherent with this approach.”

Mayor Orlando is a human rights campaigner who has worked tirelessly during his 30-year political career. During the “Palermo Spring” in the 1980s, he denounced the peril represented by the mafioso economy, the channel through which the Mafia families exercised their power with the complicity of public officials, and promoted a substantial growth of the antimafia movement within the local society.

This summer the world’s attention fell on Sicily as the refugee crisis escalated – with Mayor Orlando a powerful voice advocating a pan-European humanitarian response to the issue.

Speaking ahead of the launch on 22 October in the George Wood Theatre, Mayor Orlando said:

No one can let children, women and men die in deserts or at sea for the sole reason they are born poor or in countries at war. Solidarity between individuals is an essential value for everyone who wants to continue to belong to humanity."

The Goldsmiths event is the British launch of Orlando’s charter. The lecture is in response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and is chaired by Professor Anna Furse, from the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, with the participation of Dr Andrea Cusumano, from the Department of Theatre And Performance, who is on secondment in Sicily, in the role of Minister for Culture for the Municipality of Palermo.

Professor Furse said: “This event marks an important moment for Goldsmiths’ position in relation to the current migration/refugee crisis in the Mediterranean and elsewhere in Europe.

“Mayor Leoluca Orlando, a human rights activist and lawyer, is a prominent political voice not only locally but also in Europe.

“Currently, Goldsmiths Theatre and Performance academic Dr Andrea Cusumano, himself a Palermitan, is on secondment to work with Orlando as the city’s Cultural Assessore (director).

“Orlando’s visit to Goldsmiths is therefore significant not only with regard to his position on the current EU response to migration and refugees, but also demonstrates his commitment to a cultural policy that in turn promotes his administration’s ethics and values.

“It is on his initiative that the Department for Theatre and Performance has been invited to establish a Mediterranean Centre in the City of Palermo, within the cultural complex of the Cantieri Culturali della Zisa.

“I met Mayor Orlando in the summer at a press conference to promote the Goldsmiths Summer Intensive Performance Practices laboratory. He wasted no time in using our meeting to present his migration charter – and it was at this meeting that I invited him to come and speak at Goldsmiths.

“I am delighted that he is indeed coming to speak during his visit to the UK on his mission to disseminate his provocative ideas with regard to mobility and Human Rights.”

Download International Human Mobility, Charter of Palermo 2015 as a PDF.