The Cassation Court in Rome | Photo: ANSA/Alessandro Di Meo
The Cassation Court in Rome | Photo: ANSA/Alessandro Di Meo

Italy's highest court has ruled that asylum seekers' right to health must be protected in CAS migrant reception centers, after the association ASGI filed a complaint over a lack of measures against COVID-19 at a Bologona facility.

Italy's Cassation Court ruled on Tuesday (February 15) that migrants in CAS migrant reception centers must be able to follow anti-coronavirus measures implemented by the state such as social distancing like the rest of the Italian population.

"The right to health of asylum seekers must be safeguarded by also guaranteeing for them the measures adopted by the State to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, without any discrimination", Italy's supreme court in Rome found.

Migrants at Bologna center couldn't practice social distancing

The Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI) said the court's decision was "a great victory."

ASGI had filed a complaint in 2020 against the conditions at a CAS center in Via Mattei, in the central Italian city of Bologna, after social distancing and other protective measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus were reportedly not implemented there. According to ASGI, people at the center had to stay in rooms that hosted between between eight to ten people, without enough space to guarantee adaquate distancing.

"[After] an extremely long battle, the Cassation Court has recognized that in CAS [centers], the right to health of asylum seekers must be preserved by also guaranteeing for them the measures adopted by the State to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, without any discrimination," the association said after the ruling.

Highest court rules in favor of ASGI

ASGI said that it had first filed a complaint with a court in Bologna in 2020, saying the interior ministry, the municipal government of Bologna, the Emilia-Romagna region and the consortium L'Arcolaio, which managed the center, needed to guarantee social distancing measures to fight the spread of COVID-19 at the Via Mattei center.

The Bologna court dismissed the case three times -- in part because it said that a regional administrative court (TAR) had jurisdiction on the matter -- and ordered ASGI to pay "hefty" legal costs, according to ASGI.

However, the Cassation on Tuesday ruled in favor of ASGI.

 

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