Italy: rights guarantor calls for reforms to migrant repatriation system
Italy’s national head of detainees’ rights said serious problems remained in the country’s migrant repatriation centers (CPRs). He calls for structural changes as well as “legislative intervention”.
Italian ombudsperson for the rights of detainees Mauro Palma wrote in a report on Tuesday that migrants in repatriation centers were exposed to problems which “weigh irreparably on [their] rights.”
He called for “structural improvements” and for local health authorities to regularly check hygienic conditions in CPRs. He also said that migrants from CPRs should be able to make and receive phone calls.
Palma said the “rudimentary architecture” of the CPRs lacked spaces for socialization and worship, “which also increases tensions”.
Less than 50% deportees
Palma and his team monitored centers in Turin, Rome-Ponte Galeria, Palazzo San Gervasio, Bari, Brindisi-Restinco, Caltanissetta-Pian del Lago, Trapani-Milo, Gradisca d’Isonzo, Macomer and Milan between April 2019 and February 2021 .
In his statement on Tuesday, Palma also said Italy’s repatriation system was inefficient – in 2019, less than 50% of detained migrants were actually repatriated, the ombudsperson said.
Palma noted that the number of CPRs had been increased in recent years, which showed “an increase in the use of administrative detention”. He criticized the fact that new centers “had been created without improving the problems affecting the old facilities”.
‘Legislative changes are needed’
The Detainees’ Rights Ombudsman welcomed the government’s decision to reduce the period during which migrants can be detained in CPRs from 180 to 90 days. (Which reverses a policy implemented in the controversial “ Salvini decree ”.)
However, Palma also argued that more changes in the immigration detention policy in Italy were needed. He said that some 20 years after their introduction, CPRs were still places that had not been well considered.
“Legislative intervention on the means to ‘detain’ is needed,” Palma said.
Migrant protests at CPRs
Palma has criticized the conditions of CPRs – centers that receive migrants who have not had the right to reside in Italy and are therefore eligible for deportation – on several occasions in recent years. In December, he said the long time migrants had to wait at the CPR before deportations “which may or may not” have led to frustration and violence.
Migrants and rights activists have repeatedly criticized conditions in CPRs; in recent years there have been revolts, escape attempts and protests against living conditions in several CPRs.