From file: Migrants tracked down in Trieste | Photo: ANSA/Mauro Zocchi
From file: Migrants tracked down in Trieste | Photo: ANSA/Mauro Zocchi

The Court of Rome ruled that the readmission procedure enacted at the eastern Italian border based on an accord between Italy and Slovenia in 1996 is illegitimate. Judges upheld an appeal brought by a Pakistani asylum seeker who arrived in Trieste and was readmitted in July to Slovenia, then to Croatia and then to Bosnia.

Readmissions of migrants from Italy to Slovenia are illegitimate, ruled the Court of Rome in an ordinance on January 18 when it upheld an urgent appeal brought by a Pakistani asylum seeker.

The man had arrived in Trieste and was readmitted in July 2020 to Slovenia, from there to Croatia, and further on to Bosnia. Judges said the man has the right to immediately enter Italy to apply for asylum.

The decision, obtained by attorneys Caterina Bove and Anna Brambilla from the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), is being hailed by the left, while right-wing parties League and Forza Italia are up in arms.

The Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia is also against the ruling, and is calling on the Italian government to intervene immediately, fearing "an invasion".

Illegitimate procedure

In 2020, a total of 4,100 migrants arrived in Italy from the Slovenian border. In a statement on 21 January, ASGI said the court's decision "has sanctioned the illegitimacy of the readmission procedure enacted at the eastern Italian border based on an accord signed between Italy and Slovenia in 1996, which was never ratified in the Italian Parliament."

"This procedure is conducted in clear violation of international, European, and internal laws that regulate access to the asylum procedure, it is carried out without delivering any legal order to the interested parties, and without any examination of the individual situations, therefore with a clear injury to the right of defence and the right to present an effective appeal."

The statement also said, "it is carried out through detention administered without any order from the judicial authorities and is in clear conflict with the obligation of non-refoulement that prohibits exposing the foreigner to the risk of inhumane and degrading treatment, which, as documented by numerous NGOs and personal testimonies gathered by Border Violence Monitoring Network, represent a dramatic constant at the Croatian border."

ASGI said the decision "represents a fundamental anchor for restoring legality to the eastern Italian border."

Massimo Moratti, deputy director of the European office of Amnesty International, called it "an important ordinance."

"It says that informal pushbacks carried out by Italian police at the borders with Slovenia based on the 1996 accord are illegal," Moratti said.

Political reactions in Italy

The Rome court's decision had a split reaction in Italian politics. Nicola Oldati and Marco Pacciotti of the Democratic Party (PD) rejoiced, and recalled "the drama of thousands upon thousands of migrants blocked on the Balkan Route in camps in Bosnia, in conditions on the verge of survival, often also victims of violence. No 'consolidated practice' can prejudice the right of a person to ask for international protection nor can permit pushbacks to happen without an order formalised by judges."

Erasmo Palazzotto of the Free and Equal party called for "immediately" suspending "this inhumane practice," a call that was echoed by Riccardo Magi of the +Europa Radicali party.

Nicola Molteni and Stefano Candiani of the League party, on the other hand, went on the attack. "We hope that the interior ministry and the government immediately challenge the sentence to protect the interests of Italian citizens and of Friuli Venezia Giulia," they said.

The FVG regional government, led by a League party politician, shared the same opinion. "If this concept passes, we have no tool for limiting the invasion of our border," said FVG security councillor Pierpaolo Roberti.


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