2018: A Bad Year for Migrant Rights in Italy

According to Amnesty International’s latest report, Italy in 2018 saw "repressive management of migration", "disintegration of the human rights of asylum seekers", "xenophobic rhetoric", and "forced evictions without alternatives".

Italian Government trying to wash its hands of asylum seekers

More people dying in the Mediterranean Sea, a migration policy that disregards the health and safety of people seeking asylum, and a law on security that has reduced the efficiency of the reception system and created greater obstacles to inclusion. These are some of the features of the Italian "closed ports" policy, which has prevented several vessels from landing and put people that have been rescued at sea into dangerous circumstances. The policy also disregards national and international law on international protection. The example of the ship Diciotti shines a light on this policy. The vessel, belonging to the Italian Navy, was prevented from landing at Italian ports despite having respected its obligations concerning solidarity at sea.

At the same time, the Italian government is contributing to the collapse of shared responsibility for migration. It also backs reform of the Dublin system, which would reduce Italy's responsibilities towards asylum seekers, as it aims to ensure a fair redistribution of asylum seekers among European countries.

Italy-Libya agreements putting migrants in danger

The agreements that Italy concluded with Libya have fuelled the practice of torture of people captured by the Libyan Coastguard and then arbitrarily and indefinitely held in detention centers. In fact, migrants who decide to take the dangerous route through the central Mediterranean are being exposed to torture, rape, ill-treatment and exploitation.

Since 2016, Italy and Europe have been reinforcing the skills of Libyan maritime authorities to allow them to patrol EU coasts and intercept migrants headed for Europe and bring them back to Libya. Informal agreements with militias involved in trafficking refugees and migrants have also been documented.

This is part of a strategy whose aim is to cut the number of migrants arriving in Italy by delegating the control of Italian and European maritime borders to the Libyan authorities.

The most vulnerable are paying the highest price

The effects of the Italian policy are dramatic for people that have been taken back to Libya. According to the report, “the most vulnerable are paying the price for this policy: Sudanese women, Iraqi children, Eritrean men, young people looking for a job and old people fleeing wars; people traveling on their own to be reunited with a family member and whole families looking for a place that deserves to be called home. These are the people on whom the hatred generated by policies - that are disrespectful of the rule of law and encourage xenophobic behaviours - is likely to converge in an increasingly violent way”.