The work of the Italian prisons ombudsman, appointed one year ago, and National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) is to monitor detention conditions both in prisons and in migrant reception and detention facilities.
The ombudsman is allowed into identification and expulsion centers as well as hotspots, which, unlike regular prisons, are under the administration of the Ministry of Interior, although they sometimes feature similar conditions and practices.
The outcome of over one year of visits and monitoring on what actually happens after many migrants enter Italy and its system of reception, identification and possibly expulsion, has now been released to the public and presented during a private meeting to the most relevant non-governmental organizations involved in migration issues and search and rescue activities.
Deprived of liberty
The report aims at discussing every aspect of the deprivation of liberty faced by many migrants in Italian facilities, whether it be actual detention - in the case of migrants waiting for repatriation procedures in expulsion centers - or the limits and restrictions imposed on those hosted in the hotspots.
Issues highlighted in the report include the lack of safety of pregnant women and minors, the lack of a proper juridical identification of hotspots, which makes it difficult to assess their role and limits, and the lack of distinction between centers for illegal migrants and migrants with criminal records.
This is why the ombudsman also urged the minister of the interior, who is responsible for the management of these facilities, to undertake necessary changes aimed at improving quality and standards within the centers.
Priority issues identified under the NPM are the need for the creation of dedicated spaces for recreation and religious activities for migrants, maintenance to many of the facilities, and facilitating migrants' access to information by putting at their disposal forms in several languages.
The purpose of this monitoring work is to make clear the responsibilities Italy needs to accept when dealing with the migration emergency and the efforts to be made in order to ensure that migrants are granted the rights they are entitled to, as well as to ensure that they do not incur in unjustified deprivation of their liberty.