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Open Access 16-01-2024 | Original Article

Why identification matters: an explorative study on six cases of family reunification

Authors: Lorenzo Franceschetti, Debora Mazzarelli, Chiara Ragni, Francesca Paltenghi, Andrea Pecoraro, Denise Albani, Roberto Giuffrida, Cecilia Siccardi, Nicolò Polizzi, Paola Di Simone, Annalisa D’Apuzzo, Daniele Mandrioli, Martina Buscemi, Marilisa D’Amico, Ilaria Viarengo, Cristina Cattaneo

Published in: International Journal of Legal Medicine | Issue 3/2024

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Abstract

The escalating phenomenon of migration, accompanied by a disturbing surge in associated tragedies, has persistently violated internationally protected human rights. Absence of physical evidence, namely the presence of adequately identified corpses, may impede the full enjoyment of human rights and—in some cases—the course of justice as it obstructs the initiation of legal proceedings against individuals implicated in causing such catastrophes. It also presents administrative obstacles, as death certificates are indispensable in legitimizing statuses like orphanhood and widowhood. Family reunification, particularly for orphans, plays a significant role for those attempting to reconnect with their relatives all over the world. Likewise, for mothers, the acknowledgment of their marital status or widowhood can be a pathway to regain their marginalized right to social life. To elucidate this issue, we analyzed six representative cases from the tragic October 3, 2013, shipwreck near the Italian island of Lampedusa, where 366 individuals were retrieved dead from the sea. These cases underscore the practical challenges involved, highlighting the compelling need for continued efforts to ensure that this burdensome problem transcends from being a mere ethical, moral, and legal discourse. Although considerable progresses, these cases also reveal that substantial work still lies ahead. There is a pressing need for improved mechanisms to certify kinship ties, which are often the limiting factor in many reunifications, and can hinder the granting of custody to children. The severity and far-reaching implications of this problem necessitate thoughtful attention and action, especially considering the ongoing escalation in migration and related fatalities.
Footnotes
1
“Proving family links or dependency may be particularly difficult especially where documentary evidence such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates or other such documents are missing and/or hard to access. In the same way, lack of documentation in the case of informal adoption of non-biological children may also delay or lead to a rejection of reunification. In the case of single parent families, they may have to provide proof of the death of the other parent and/or of parental authority, which may not be possible where the other parent remains in a conflict zone or such administrative services are no longer available from the State or prohibitively costly,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Families together, December 2018, available at: https://​www.​unhcr.​org/​neu/​wp-content/​uploads/​sites/​15/​2020/​10/​Familiestogether​_​20181203-FINAL.​pdf [accessed 15 Oct 2023]; and para 7.7, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The “Essential Right” to Family Unity of Refugees and Others in Need of International Protection in the Context of Family Reunification, January 2018, 2nd edition, available at: https://​www.​refworld.​org/​docid/​5a902a9b4.​html (accessed 15 Oct 2023).
 
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Metadata
Title
Why identification matters: an explorative study on six cases of family reunification
Authors
Lorenzo Franceschetti
Debora Mazzarelli
Chiara Ragni
Francesca Paltenghi
Andrea Pecoraro
Denise Albani
Roberto Giuffrida
Cecilia Siccardi
Nicolò Polizzi
Paola Di Simone
Annalisa D’Apuzzo
Daniele Mandrioli
Martina Buscemi
Marilisa D’Amico
Ilaria Viarengo
Cristina Cattaneo
Publication date
16-01-2024
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Published in
International Journal of Legal Medicine / Issue 3/2024
Print ISSN: 0937-9827
Electronic ISSN: 1437-1596
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00414-024-03163-w

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