Entrance to the CPR on Turin's Corso Brunelleschi, November 2019 | Photo: ANSA/ ALESSANDRO DI MARCO
Entrance to the CPR on Turin's Corso Brunelleschi, November 2019 | Photo: ANSA/ ALESSANDRO DI MARCO

Italy's detainees rights guarantor has drawn attention to a 50% drop in migrants in repatriation centers (CPR) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But there has been a rise in the number of migrants hosted in the country's hotspots.

The number of migrants in Italy's CPR repatriation centers has been halved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, detainee rights guarantor Mauro Palma said Wednesday. He noted that there was a drop in CPR presences from 425 on March 12 to 282 in mid-April. 

Situation in hotspots 

At the same time, however, Palma noted that "there are more people in the hotspots, where sometimes those arriving spend the quarantine period." 

He added that "currently some 111 people are lodged in the Lampedusa hotspot, where quarantine clearly cannot be done in isolation. About 30 have been in quarantine since early April and the others since April 8."

"In the Pozzallo hotspot there are 50 migrants, all of whom in quarantine since they were part of the April 7-8 landing on Lampedusa," he said. 

"The Messina hotspot hosts 57 migrants not in quarantine but waiting to be relocated in other European countries. This is impossible for the moment, though, given the border closures." 

ECHR contacted by detainees and migrants in Italy 

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) discussed the issue of migrants held in Italian centers on Wednesday after receiving requests from detainees and migrants in detention in CPRs and jails ahead of repatriation. 

The court told ANSA that about a dozen migrants and detainees had sent it about a dozen requests between mid-March and Tuesday asking for "urgent measures" to prevent COVID-19 infections. The requests were filed on the basis of Rule 39, which allows the Strasbourg court to ask a state to adopt urgent measures to ensure that human rights are respected. 

The court added that most of the detainees would like to be assigned house arrest of individual cells, while migrants in CPRs want an end to their detention. 

The ECHR has already rejected two requests. One was on the risk of COVID-19 infection in jail and the other was to use Skype to maintain contact with family members while in prison. The other requests are pending and the court is waiting for information from Italy to make a decision. 

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