Best columns: Europe
Justice at long last for Hillsborough
More than 28 years after the worst stadiumstampede tragedy in British history, justice will finally be done, said Tony Evans. On April 15, 1989, at the start of a soccer semifinals game at Hillsborough stadium, catastrophically inept crowd control decisions led to a deadly crush, killing 96 people and injuring more than 700, many severely. At the time, authorities blamed the victims, saying that drunken Liverpool fans had rioted. In fact, police lied outrageously, feeding “scurrilous, irrational” stories to a credulous tabloid press. For years, the families of the dead, who insisted their loved ones were not rampaging hooligans, “were regarded as cranks and fantasists by the general public.” But they persisted, and over the years inquiries were reopened and forensic evidence was made public. That evidence shows that official decisions to close off certain exits and open others, funneling the crowd into an enclosed space, were responsible for the tragedy. Six people have now been indicted for manslaughter. The process “has taken too long,” of course, “and that has exacerbated the agony” for victims’ relatives—many of whom have themselves died in the intervening decades. But for those who remain, “a form of closure is on the horizon.” This “stain on British justice” will at long last be cleansed.
Saving migrants is everyone’s responsibility
The European Union is letting Italy shoulder our moral burden, said Le Monde, and that won’t end well either for Italy or for Europe. Some 200,000 desperate people will travel in teeming, unseaworthy boats from Libya to Italian shores this year; tens of thousands have already arrived. At a recent EU meeting on the migrant crisis, Italy begged its European partners to at least host in their own ports some of the humanitarian ships that rescue drowning migrants. But Rome “received only a little money and some fine words.” France and Spain refuse to open their ports, while Austria has actually “threatened to send tanks to the Italian border” to stop migrants from crossing. Italians are bitter—and rightfully so. They feel Europe has abandoned them, and that sentiment may push them into the arms of anti-EU parties. Italy is likely to hold early elections this fall, and “anti-immigrant and Euroskeptic” parties already hold nearly one-third of Italians in their sway. France’s visionary new president, Emmanuel Macron, “claims to want to give shape to a new European impulse.” Is this really the way to begin? Working together for European unity must include sharing responsibility for the human lives at risk in the Mediterranean.