Immigrants in line for the requesting of stay permits at a police station in Ventimiglia, Italy |Photo: ANSA / LUCA ZENNARO
Immigrants in line for the requesting of stay permits at a police station in Ventimiglia, Italy |Photo: ANSA / LUCA ZENNARO

A court in Italy's northern city of Lecco on October 14 fined the economy ministry for having introducing additional fees for migrants requesting a renewal of their stay permits in 2011. The measure had already been contested in 2015 by the European Court of Justice.

A court in Italy's northern town of Lecco on October 14 fined the economy ministry for discriminatory practices in its increasing of fees paid by immigrants wanting to renew their stay permits.

The immigrants are required to pay between 80 and 200 euros depending on the type of permit requested, whereas the previous payment covered only the official stamp (€16), the printing of the document (€27.50), and postal coasts (€30).

The local and regional trade unions, CGIL Lecco and CGIL Lombardy, as well as the body assisting 35 foreigners in the case expressed satisfaction with the decision.

Case for discrimination

With assistance from the lawyers Alberto Guariso, Susanna Pelzel, and Livio Negri from the ASGI association for legal studies on immigration, those that filed the petition did so against the economy ministry claiming they had suffered discrimination.

The payment required since 2011 was disproportionate and incompatibile with European Union laws, according to a decision by the European Court of Justice.

In 2015, the European Court of Justice declared that this payment was disproportionate since it made it financially difficult for foreigners to get access to working papers in the country.

Sentenced to pay immigrants back

The administrative court of Italy's central Lazio region and the Council of State had previously annulled the ministerial decree that had increased the payments, acknowledging that the administration would have to set new amounts that are instead proportionate and not excessive. They had also ordered the ministry to pay back the extra amount.

Despite the ruling and subsequent requests for reimbursement, the CGIL trade union said, the ministry has not only never paid back what it had been ordered to, it also did not even respond to requests sent from the Lecco office.

On October 14, the Lecco court ruled in favour of those behind the petition, having ascertained discrimination against migrants by the economy ministry and ordered the ministry to pay back the amounts required over the years.

 

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