Tech & Rights

Migrants Abused to Satisfy EU Requirements, New Report Alleges

A new report by Amnesty International details how Italian authorities abused migrants in order to coerce them to give fingerprints and fulfill the EU's requirement of a 100 percent identification rate of arriving migrants.

by Federica Brioschi
Migrants arrive at a hotspot registration and identification center in Italy. (Image: Vito Manzari)
The report, "Hotspot Italy: How EU’s flagship approach leads to violations of refugee and migrant rights," is being denied by Italian authorities.

According to Dublin III, asylum seekers have to start an asylum procedure in the country of arrival. This means that countries at the borders of Europe (namely Italy and Greece) have the heaviest burdens to carry out these procedures and then to take care of all the asylum seekers, who can’t leave the country where they have applied.

Between 2013 and 2015, Italy failed to identify all those migrants who wanted to apply for asylum in another country, such as Germany, and the EU attempted to find a solution to this problem.

'100% ID rate'

In May 2015, the European Commission established the hotspot approach in order to reach the "100 percent identification rate" in the country of arrival, saying the hotspot registration centers allowed authorities to more easily identify and separate those people who could apply for asylum from those to be returned to their country of origin.

Migrants are kept in so-called hotspots until authorities register and identify them.

Hotspots were established in Italy with the EU promise of relocation of many of the refugees. Later on, however, EU countries could not find an agreement on the quota system and started to close their borders. But hotspots remained in place.

“The hotspot approach was not an Italian idea,” states Amnesty’s report.

Following EU guidelines, Italian authorities started to use more coercive methods in order to obtain migrants’ fingerprints. Although “there is no doubt that the vast majority of police officials keep doing their work spotlessly,” says Amnesty’s report, “some engaged in excessive use of force, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, or even torture”.

“In its pursuit of a '100% identification rate,' the hotspot approach has pushed Italian authorities to the limits, and over, of what is permissible under international human rights law.”


The report has resonated strongly among the civil society, but Italian police and authorities harshly denied it, saying it was "made in London and not in Italy."

As a reaction, several civil society associations, including Antigone and CILD, joined ADIF in a statement to support Amnesty’s report.

We hope that the Italian authorities will investigate the allegations of abuses that took place on Italian soil.

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