Italy adopts decree making it easier to expel migrants

Italy adopts decree making it easier to expel migrants
2 min read
24 September, 2018
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini defended the new bill, calling it "a step forward to make Italy safer".
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a press conference in Rome [Getty]
Italy's far-right government on Monday adopted a hardline decree that will make it easier to deport migrants and strip them of Italian citizenship.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini defended the new bill on Facebook, calling it "a step forward to make Italy safer".

He said it will help Italy "be stronger in the fight against the mafia and (people) smugglers, reduce the costs of excessive immigration, expel delinquents and fake refugees, strip terrorists of citizenship (and) give the police greater powers". 

The anti-migrant bill has been heavily criticised in recent weeks, including by members of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which governs in coalition with Salvini's Northern League party.

The head of Italy's bishops' conference Nunzio Galantino has lamented the fact that security and the treatment of migrants are dealt with in the same bill.

"This means that the immigrant is already judged because of his condition and that he's already considered a public menace, whatever his behaviour. This is a bad sign," Galantino said.

Parliament has 60 days to debate, amend and vote on the bill before President Sergio Mattarella signs it into law.

Humanitarian protection - a lower level of asylum that is based on Italian rather than international law - would be awarded based on six strict criteria.

These include whether there was urgent medical need or if the applicant was the victim of a natural disaster, Salvini told journalists.

He said around a quarter of those who have applied for asylum in recent years in Italy have been given humanitarian protection, which is a provisional status.

Those seeking refugee status will have their requests suspended if they are "considered socially dangerous or convicted in the first instance" of crimes, while their appeals are ongoing.

They will in future be housed in bigger reception centres, while minors and those with recognised refugee status will be housed in different parts of the country in order to facilitate integration.

The new law also lets local police have Taser stun guns and makes it easier to evict squatters by getting rid of the obligation of finding provisional housing for the most vulnerable.

Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, has taken a hardline on migrants since the coalition came to power in June. It has been turning away ships with migrants rescued at sea in a campaign to make EU countries take their share.

Last month, Italy threatened to stop billions of euros of EU funding over the issue.

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