Migrant repatriation center (CPR) in Gradisca d'Isonzo, northeast Italy | Photo: ANSA
Migrant repatriation center (CPR) in Gradisca d'Isonzo, northeast Italy | Photo: ANSA

Italy's national detainee rights guarantor has shown concern over the situation of migrants detained in Italian repatriation centers, arguing that keeping migrants in the facilities for longer than originally planned would curtail their freedom. Due to the spread of coronavirus, deportations to home countries are currently suspended.

Italy's national detainee rights guarantor, Mauro Palma, has urged the Italian government to assess whether it is reasonable to "deprive people of their freedom for the sake of repatriation when they cannot for the moment be repatriated" due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Palma said borders have been closed and there are no air or sea connections with most other states. The country's migrant repatriation centers, or CPR, hosted 381 people as of March 24 -- some 44 fewer than on March 12.

Palma noted Tuesday in his daily statement on the Covid-19 emergency that he was still waiting for a response.

'Repatriations have become impossible'

Palma explained that out of the 45 people held in the Gradisca d'Isonzo CPR in northeast Italy, the "maximum time they can be held ends within two months" for 13 detainees, eight of whom are "in the center on the basis of an administrative measure."

"Just go to the viaggiaresicuri.it website of the Italia foreign ministry to get even a minimal idea of to what extent these repatriations have become impossible," said Palma, who's currently collecting data on all people currently detained in CPR facilities.

He noted the stance taken by John Sandweg, the former acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), who called for the release of migrants in detention centers or "Covid-19 will spread like wildfire".

Palma said that in Italy, "we are not in this situation. However, there is an issue for those who presumably will have to be released before the end of this epidemic and for whom the period between now and then may be one of a loss of time and freedom," he concluded.

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