Picture shows an immigrant at a temporary shelter in Lampedusa, Italy. | Photo: Archive / ANSA / Ettore Ferrari
Picture shows an immigrant at a temporary shelter in Lampedusa, Italy. | Photo: Archive / ANSA / Ettore Ferrari

Italy's guarantor for the rights of detainees has urged authorities to order the detention of migrants in Permanent Centers for Repatriation (CPR) “only if necessary” and for the“shortest” amount of time possible.

The administrative detention of migrants “should be asshort as possible” and “ordered only if necessary,” according to the recommendations issued by Italy's guarantor for the rights of detained people.

Women, unaccompanied minors and sick people whose condition could deteriorate should not be detained at all, but housed in structures “directed and managed by personnel that has been adequately trained,” the guarantor also said in the book 'Norme e Normalità (Norms and normality). In the book, the watchdog outlines the minimum standards to guarantee people in “judicial limbo” and in “alarmingly critical” situations, including those held at Permanent Centers for Repatriation (CPR).

Administrative detention is increasingly frequent

Over the past few years, administrative detention has been increasingly frequent, becoming the rule rather than the exception, the watchdog said. A reported 4,092 people stayed at a CPR in 2018 yet only 1,768, or 43%, were eventually repatriated. The government's immigration and security decree lengthens the period of permanence to six months but the watchdog recommended that it should be “proportional to the aim for which it is adopted.”

Moreover, people need to be “promptly” informed of why they are being detained and of their rights, in particular their right “to a doctor and a lawyer, to inform a person of choice about their detention, to appeal the decision.” They also have a right to “legal assistance and representation, as well as to be informed of the rules of the center'' where they are being held.

The media should be granted access

The head of the guarantor's office, Mauro Palma, also said the media should be granted access to the centers. Detention centers should be “visible,” Palma said, denouncing an “attitude” of preventing members of the press and activists from seeing what is going on in centers.

At the presentation for the book, Palma added: “I have a feeling that it will take a lot of time to recover from some of the cultural damage [that has been inflicted by the current political consensu], starting from the language [used] [and moving on to the] symbolic use of the privation of freedom and suffering.”


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