The State of Justice - The case Samuel
HERE I AM. JUST TURNED 18. AT THE BEGINNING OF A LIFE THAT IS NO LONGER A LIFE.
In her series De Staat van… (The State of…), theatre maker and curator Lara Staal each time focuses on a fundamental value of our Western society. The fourth part of the series, De Staat van de Rechtvaardigheid (The State of Justice), focuses on De Zaak Samuel (The Case of Samuel), the true story of a boy from Eritrea who flees to Europe at the age of 13. His story is the one of thousands of Eritrean boys between 16 and 25 who have fled to Europe in recent years via Sudan, the Sahara and Libya, experiencing all kinds of exploitation along the way. When their asylum case is rejected, they hardly have access to adequate care or shelter.
THE STORY OF SAMUEL
Samuel was 15 when he came to Europe in 2018. Two years earlier, he had fled his homeland to escape the reign of terror that had prevailed there for 25 years. Samuel fled via Libya, a journey often described as the four-stage hell. Then he ventured onto the Mediterranean Sea. Unconscious, he was brought to shore in Italy by a boat of Doctors without Borders. A travelling adult tried to estimate his age and haphazardly gave 1 January 2001 as his date of birth, a date that will haunt Samuel for years. He travelled on to the Netherlands, but was not recognised there as a minor. At sixteen he ended up on the street. Something snapped in Samuel's head. It was not until he was 17 that he was allowed to appear before a juvenile court judge who finally recognised him as a child. He was assigned a guardian, allowed to go to school and received residence permits.
The case of Samuel is one of thousands. For the past two years more and more young people from Eritrea have been arriving in Europe, often in a very poor condition. Yet, in countries like the Netherlands or Belgium they receive hardly any help after their asylum applications have been rejected. Despite their extremely vulnerable state, the Netherlands keeps referring them back to their country of registration, even though everyone knows that Italy cannot cope with this large influx and the registration procedures are very chaotic.
DE STAAT VAN DE RECHTVAARDIGHEID
Due to the corona pandemic the decision was made to turn De Staat van de Rechtvaardigheid – De Zaak Samuel (The State of Justice - The Case of Samuel) into a short film. For this, Lara Staal worked closely with filmmaker Pascal Poisonnier. Through Samuel's story, recited by actor Adam Kissequel, the film tries to get a grip on the immense injustice in our current asylum policy. Samuel's indictment is followed by a discussion led by experts, both on the international situation (in English) and on the situation in Flanders (in Dutch). The audience will be actively involved during the discussion.
These speakers will join us in the debate:
- International human rights lawyer Omer Shatz
- Eritrean human rights activist Meron Estefanos
- State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi
HERE TO SUPPORT
For De Staat van de Rechtvaardigheid Lara Staal worked closely with Here to Support, an Amsterdam based organisation that works with refugees in limbo. Besides advocacy, Here to Support also focuses on setting up artistic projects that offer visibility to refugees who do not have a residence status but also cannot return to their country of origin.
- Adam Kissequel
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