vademecum C.I.E. (Centri di Identificazione ed Espulsione)

Schermata 2011-03-10 a 01.32.51

A vademecum for illegal immigrants who end up in the Identification and Expulsion Centres in Italy: a handbook to explain the – geographic, legal and temporal – path in which the detained are, through a language that integrates text (in three languages) and picture (easily understandable) that can cover most of the cultures that passes by these places.

This project started from an analysis of Identification and Expulsion Centres, a transit place for illegal immigrants that have to be expelled, but no one knows where. In these centres I found a problem: disinformation, which concerns the people involved as the world outside of it. Within these centers the information given is very weak, and poor attention is taken to the vast linguistic and cultural differences that coexists in those places. Outside, it’s hard to find information about them: the media talks a little about it, partly because they do not have free access to these places . Therefore, if there’s no opportunity to receive such information through other means of alternative information, people do not even know the existence of such centers.

So the issue of this project is disinformation. The project consists in a campaign within the detention centres to inform detainees on how does the world they are in works.

As I also had the opportunity to directly see, the available information material given to detainees about italian law is very sparse. Language is the major obstacle for understanding the information, and centres often lack of cultural mediators. The target range is composed of individuals from many different nations and cultures, who often refuse to declare their identity or nationality, that are waiting for their identification. Most of the detainees in these centres come directly from detention in prison, and most of them spent terrible experiences of migration.

Also the architecture of the center, often gathered from old prison or military facilities, is neutral and blank, it looks like a prison: to return to an environment with such appearance engender psychological distress, feelings of fear, punishment, sadness, of freedom deprivation and desire to escape in every way, all stressed by the inability to receive information in their own language, remaining unaware of what is happening.

The little information is counterproductive, increases mistrust: an example is the individual who has the right to get international protection, but he doesn’t know and he refuses to declare his identity for fear of returning home.


My proposal consists of a guidebook for the inmates of the center, which facilitates the understanding of the situation in which they ended up, at a glance: where you are – in geographic, legislative and temporal matter – why you’re here and what you can encounter along your path.

Aware of the inexistence of a universally understood language, my choices were determined by considering such a various target – from illiterates to graduates, the difficulty in dealing with laws that are not of your own country and the state of mind of the withhelds. For these reasons I chose to use a dual language: a visual language composed of basic key elements and patterns that represent what people can meet during their path within and without the the centers (concepts, characters, places) complemented and supplemented by a textual language in three languages ​​- Italian, English, Arabic – as to cover the largest percentage of the guests.


The vocabulary, in both codes, refers as good as possible to the reader’s lived experiences or those he will encounter in its path. As in the literature for those who have morphosyntactic difficulty, the juxtaposition of the word to the image helps the reader to focus on the differences of details in order to compensate for the lack of clarity of some concept.

The proposed handbook is a practical guide 15x16cm that consists of three sections:

– Introduction

– Temporal and legislative path

– Further information

   click to see the whole index

It is written according to a vertical reading, to facilitate different types of writing and reading of the people who will read it.

The handbook is composed of individual informational sheets available separately. Each sheet has a folded flap which contains the summary information of the sheet and which can serve as a bookmark.

The binding is a simple spiral – considering that it has to be a cheap product – not complete in order to let the flaps to be free so as to flip the side for faster searching of content.


In addition, to the user are given blank sheets of paper of the same size and also drilled so they can be put into the manual, and a personal calendar of 180 days, the maximum detention in the CIE, which shows the various stages where burocracy could decide about the detainee’s life.



Should we find out, that the booklets and leaflets are understood, but not easily, I should not consider them as a failure. As long as they stimulate people so that they make an effort to understand their main message – as long as the booklets make people think and find out – they are fulfilling their task.

Marie Neurath, about the project of informing citizens on the elections in Nigeria, developed with the Isotype Institute in 1956.


Here you can find the handbook.ppt (to watch in Presentation View)