​To CIE or Not to CIE? Italy Wants More Inhumane Detention Centers for Foreigners

Although centers for identification and expulsion (CIE) are manifestly ineffective and inhumane, Italy could soon be getting many more of them.
In recent weeks, the Italian media has focused on the issue of the effectiveness of Italian CIE facilities after the new minister of interior, Marco Minniti, made clear his intention to open a CIE in every Italian region.

What are CIE?

Centers for identification and expulsion were created in 1998 and reformed in 2011. Their scope is to identify and expel illegal migrants who don’t have the right to remain in Italy.

When the law was introduced, the maximum length of stay was 30 days, but it became gradually longer. In 2015, it went up to 90 days in normal circumstances and to one year in special circumstances, which are: the migrant represents a danger for public order and security; or there is the possibility that the migrant will escape.

Who is detained in CIE?

The majority of the people who are detained in these centers are former detainees, who have to be identified and deported.

Other people detained in CIE are all those people who had a regular permit, but couldn’t renew it (also called "overstayers"), or minors (sometimes born and raised in Italy) who turned 18 and couldn’t renew their documents. Some of them don’t have any relation with the country of origin and have a completely new life here in Italy.

There are also asylum seekers, who didn’t initiate their asylum procedure when they came to Italy.

Where are CIE?

Italy currently has four active CIE, located in Brindisi, Caltanissetta, Rome and Turin. If operating at capacity, they would be able to host up to 574 people, but at the moment the effective capacity is 359 people.

As of December 30, 2016, they were hosting 288 people. Many of the 15 original CIE were closed over time as they proved ineffective and, furthermore, dangerous in terms of violations of fundamental rights.

Are CIE effective?

In a recent report, the Extraordinary Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights of the Senate of the Republic found that the effectiveness of CIE is very limited.

In fact, in the first nine months of 2016, only 44 percent of the people who walked into a CIE were deported to their countries of origin. In the previous years, the percentage was also around 50 percent.

The same is true for all those people who received the order to leave the country, but weren’t detained in a CIE: in 2015, half of them was expelled, while the other half wasn’t.

Thousands of people have been released from CIE because they can’t be returned to their countries of origin. They will remain illegally in Italy, but they won’t be able to access the job market and will likely fall prey to all kinds of abuses or become criminals.

Furthermore, CIE have been denounced over and over as places where gross violations of fundamental rights are committed and normalized. Many reports - both from NGOs and institutions - have well demonstrated the evilness of these places: see, for instance, Arcipelago Cie by MEDU or reports by the parliamentary commissions that have looked into it.

'Unjust, costly and ineffective'

As the CIE system doesn’t work, it seems a waste of resources to open one in each Italian region.

In a press release from Antigone, Patrizio Gonnella states, "The law already says what should be done, which is, the identification of irregular migrants inside prisons. There is more than enough time to identify them while they are detained. To do so only once they are released and sent to CIE is unjust, costly and ineffective."

LasciateCIEntrare also issued a statement reminding all the wrongdoings that happened in the CIE from 1998 to now and advocating for the closing of all CIE.

All data mentioned in this article is available here.