The CPR migrant repatriation center of Gradisca d'Isonzo, in the province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Italy | Photo: Alice Fumis
The CPR migrant repatriation center of Gradisca d'Isonzo, in the province of Friuli Venezia Giulia, in Italy | Photo: Alice Fumis

Judges in Italy have ordered for rejected asylum seekers to be released from migrant repatriation centers in three seperate cases. Among the reasons they gave for their decisions: The migrants' health is in danger at the CPR amid the Covid-19 emergency. And deportations have been suspended because of the coronavirus crisis.

In three seperate cases, Italian courts recently ruled in favor of rejected asylum seekers who had requested to be released from migrant repatriation centers (CPRs).

Two decisions were made by courts in Rome, one was made by a court in the northern port city of Trieste. All decisions were reportedly at least in part influenced by the novel coronavirus pandemic. 

Because of Covid-19: Asylum procedures suspended

Judges in both Rome and Trieste pointed to the fact that asylum procedures have been suspended because of the coronavirus epidemic.

The court in Trieste said that one decisive factor for its ruling was the fact that the National Commission for Asylum Rights had suspended procedures to assess international protection requests indefinitely. This made the "limiting of personal freedom unjustifiable" and the detention was thus unlawful, the court found.

Judges in Rome pointed to an EU directive on repatriation, arguing the detention is no longer justified. The directive states that when there is no reasonable prospect of deportation, the person must be released.

'Difficult to ensure the health of individuals' 

In Rome, judges also said that "the deprivation of personal freedoms in restricted spaces would make it difficult to ensure the health of individuals." They argued that it was important to "create a balance between (immigration) regulations and the constitutional right to health that is also guaranteed by conventions to every person present in the country."

In a March 18 ruling, they ruled in favor of a man from Bangladesh, who had been in Italy for 20 years and had found work there. The court said that -- in part because the man had deep roots in Italy -- it should be taken into consideration that "the restrictions on movement from national territory would in any case prevent him from being repatriated."

What are CPRs?

In Italy, undocumented migrants and rejected asylum seekers are sent to CPRs when they are about to be deported. CPRs are currently holding roughly 380 people across Italy.

At the Gradisca CPR in northern Italy, a protest against the living conditions amid the Covid-19 emergency broke out on Sunday night. Fires were set inside the facilities. The Bangladeshi migrant who won his case at the Trieste court had been housed there.

 

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