New laws established by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini abolishes ‘humanitarian protection’ status for the mainly African Muslim illegal asylum seekers in Italy, who are being expelled from shelters in the run-up to Christmas under a new system brought in by the country’s recently elected ‘Italy First’ government.
“It’s a step forward to make Italy safer, to combat more effectively the mafia and human traffickers, to reduce the costs of excessive immigration, to expel more quickly criminals and fake refugees, to revoke citizenship from terrorists, to strengthen police powers.” – Matteo Salvini
Independent (h/t TherezaB) At least 24 migrants were asked to leave a shelter in the southern municipality of Isola di Capo Rizzuto last Friday, while 200 others are being forced to evacuate that center next week,
Mr Salvini said the changes would lead to “more rights for the true refugees and less waste for those who are refugees is not”. He has also said the new law means “the party is over” for the migrants he claims are “sitting in hotels watching TV” at public expense.
The “Salvini decree” – named after interior minister Matteo Salvini – scraps “humanitarian protection” status for fake asylum seekers and introduces new rules on who can be housed in council-run migrant reception centres.
Italy’s lower house of parliament, the Camera dei deputati, has approved a new immigration-security decree advocated by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini — handing him his first big win.
The new laws are part of the populist government’s push to reduce the numbers of illegal Muslim refugees and migrants in Italy – with other policies including ordering the seizure of boats that rescue migrants, and restrictions on the opening hours of “ethnic” shops.
The UN high commissioner’s office has warned in a report that the law will “certainly” lead to violations of international law.
“The abolition of humanitarian protection status, the exclusion of asylum seekers from access to reception centres focusing on social inclusion, and the extended duration of detention in return centres and hotspots fundamentally undermine international human rights principles, and will certainly lead to violations of international human rights law,” the UN office said in a statement.
Italian media reports that some Muslim migrants given the now scrapped “humanitarian protection” status are being expelled from centres across the country as the law starts to take affect.
About a quarter of those who sought asylum in Italy in 2017 were given the designation, roughly 20,000 people, with more than 100,000 people thought to hold it in total. It gives the right to remain in Italy, and was usually bestowed on those who do not qualify for refugee status but who were judged by the Italian authorities to not be safe in their home country.
Reports of expulsions from centres started last week. The Ansa news agency reports that 24 migrants staying at a centre in the southeastern municipality Isola di Capo Rizzuto who had humanitarian protection status were made to leave on Friday. About 200 others are expected to be expelled from that centre over the coming week.
Charities the Red Cross and Caritas have arranged for accommodation to be provided for about 20 days for some as a stop-gap, but the group’s future is uncertain – with most having moved to a makeshift tent camp where about 100 migrants are living in precarious conditions.
Under the system, new asylum seekers will be excluded from these council-operated local receptions centres, known as Sprar, which focus on integrating them into the community with language and job training. There is expected to be an expansion of the use of larger, centralised detention centres, which lack the focus on integration that the Sprar have.
EuroNews The new decree, voted 396 to 99 late on Wednesday, clamps down on asylum rights and hardens security measures as a way of preventing terrorist attacks on Italian soil. Euronews has compiled a list of the main points of the decree (which is available in full here).
1) Cancellation of asylum protection on ‘humanitarian’ grounds
Under the new decree, the Italian government will only grant asylum to refugees of war or victims of political persecution and hand out special permits of a maximum duration of one year for all other cases.
2) Extension of duration of foreigners in detention centres
Italy will now be able to detain foreigners up to 180 days before repatriating them. That’s the period considered necessary to verify the identity and nationality of the migrant.
3) Easier withdrawal of protection
Asylum seekers will now be able to lose their protection if they are found guilty of a felony. The list of crimes for which migrants can now be expelled for includes threats or violence to a public official and a variety of theft charges.
4) Weakening of local integration programmes for asylum seekers
The new rules also weaken the network of integration programmes which provide asylum seekers with tools to better integrate into their local communities (known as SPRAR in Italian). The system will now only be open to those whose asylum requests have been accepted.
5) On security measures:
The decree also boosts funds for police and anti-mafia administrators. It also allows police the use of electric teasers. As a response to terrorist attacks in Europe, the law increases control on people who rent trucks and strips naturalised foreigners convicted on terrorism charges of their Italian citizenship.