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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C

Italy's 'get tough' approach to refugees leading to unlawful expulsions, ill-treatment - report

Amnesty International has released a new report claiming to offer testimonies of abuse and ill-treatment by Italian authorities which “may amount to torture”.

Italy Migrants Luca Bruno A soldier stands guard as migrants enter the Montello barracks, in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday of this week Luca Bruno

A NEW REPORT from Amnesty International alleges that Italy, under pressure from the EU to ‘get tough’ with refugees and migrants, is in fact violating those people’s rights.

The report, titled ‘Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights’, details allegations of beatings, electric shocks, and sexual humiliations against Italian authorities.

The human rights organisation has collected 24 testimonies of ill-treatment out of the interviews of 170 migrants in 2016 who have come to Italy in recent times.

150,000 people have reached Italy by sea in 2016 alone.

The ‘Hotspot’ approach in question, is designed to fingerprint and identify new migrant arrivals to frontline EU countries like Italy.

The approach, introduced last year on recommendation of the European Commission, requires all such countries to fingerprint new arrivals, many of whom do not wish to be fingerprinted according to Amnesty.

The report claims that consistent accounts exist of arbitrary detention and excessive physical force in order to get such arrivals to consent to being fingerprinted.

One Eritrean woman described being slapped repeatedly in the face by a policeman until she relented and allowed herself to be fingerprinted.

The new report likewise claims that newly-arrived and exhausted migrants are forced to immediately answer questions “with potentially profound implications for their future”.

This is in order to screen asylum-seekers and separate “those considered irregular migrants”.

“Increased pressure”

“The hotspot approach, designed in Brussels and executed in Italy, has increased, not decreased, the pressure on front-line states,” says Amnesty International’s researcher on Italy Matteo de Bellis.

It is resulting in appalling violations of the rights of desperately vulnerable people for which the Italian authorities bear a direct responsibility and Europe’s leaders a political one.
European nations may be able to remove people from their territory but they cannot remove their obligations under international law. Italian authorities must end violations and ensure that people are not sent back to countries where they are at risk of persecution or torture.

The report also alleges that, under pressure from the EU Italy has sought to increase the number of migrants being returned to their countries of origin, which involves the European country signing new Memorandums of Understanding with “countries that have committed appalling atrocities”.

In the case of Sudan, it claims that the new memorandum has led to summary identification taking place in Sudan itself.

The report says that this has “already led to cases of unlawful expulsions”, including 40 people “identified as Sudanese nationals who were put on a plane to Khartoum from Italy” in August 2016.

Read: Suspect in custody over fatal shooting of police officers in ambush attack in the US

Read: Japanese girl band apologises after wearing costumes that looked like Nazi uniforms

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