Access to the territory and push backs

Italy

Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 03/06/21

Author

Since May 2020 the Italian Government gave instructions to the border authorities of Friuli Venezia Giulia to carry out informal readmissions to Slovenia. At the end of 2020 at least 1,300 people were readmitted to Slovenia (see internal borders, Slovenia).

On 18 January 2021, the Civil Court of Rome[1] accepted the urgent appeal lodged, with the support of ASGI and Border Violence Monitoring Network, by a Pakistani man, asylum seeker, who was informally readmitted in July 2020 by the border police of Trieste to Slovenia according to the Readmission Agreement signed by the Italian and Slovenian Government in 1996. From Slovenia, within 48 hours, the man was then readmitted to Croatia and then pushed back to Bosnia, according to a consolidated mechanism of readmissions by chain. The Court declared the informal readmission procedure implemented on the Italian eastern border on the basis of the mentioned agreement that was never ratified by the Italian Parliament, unlawful.

The Court observed that the readmission procedure is carried out in clear violation of the international, European and internal rules that regulate access to the asylum procedure. The concerned persons were not offered any remedies and their individual situations were not examined. The Court therefore concluded clear infringement of the right of defence and the right to an effective remedy. The Court also observed de facto detention carried out without any order from the judicial authority and It further concluded that the procedure clearly violates the obligation of non-refoulement, which prohibits exposing persons to risks of inhuman and degrading treatment, which, as documented by numerous NGOs, is a systematic practice at the Croatian border.

According to the Court the Italian authorities could not deny knowing the mechanism of readmissions by chain carried out by Slovenian and Croatian authorities nor the situation of violence at the Croatian border as reported by several NGOs, international organizations and EU institutions.

In direct application of art. 10 paragraph 3 of the Italian Constitution, the Court recognized the applicant’s right to enter Italy immediately in order to have access to the procedure for examining his application for international protection, access that had been precluded due to the unlawful conduct of the Italian authorities.[2]

The applicant was allowed to enter Italy with a visa and to formalise the asylum application. However, immediately after, on 3 May 2021, the Court of Rome accepted the appeal submitted by the Ministry of Interior considering that the personal involvement of the applicant in the readmission procedure was not proved. In this decision the Court does not deny the reconstruction of the first court regarding the illegitimacy of the readmission procedures.[3]

Also, on 11 January 2021, the Civil Court of Appeal of Rome confirmed the decision taken on 28 November 2019 by the Court of Rome accepting the appeal lodged with the support of ASGI and Amnesty by 14 Eritrean citizens based in Israel, who were victims of a collective refoulement by Italian authorities to Libya in 2009. The Court recognized their right to access the asylum procedure in Italy and sentenced Italy to compensate the damage they suffered due to the illegal behaviour of the Italian authorities.[4]

The Court recognized the need to expand the scope of international protection to preserve the position of those who were prevented from submitting an application for international protection due to the fact that they could not access the territory of the State as a consequence of an unlawful act committed by the authority of the referring State, inhibiting the entry to the territory in the form of a collective refoulement, in violation of the Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.[5]

 

 Arrivals by sea

 

In 2020, 34,154 persons disembarked in Italy[6], an increase compared to 2019 (11,471) and 2018 (23,370), but still considerably lower than 2017(119,369). In 2020 there were 26,963 asylum applicants.[7]

The main nationality of people disembarked remained Tunisian. However, out of the 12,883 Tunisians that disembarked, only 918 were registered as asylum seekers.

Although Algerians were among the main foreign citizens disembarked both in 2020 and 2019, this situation does not match with the list of the most common nationalities of asylum seekers in 2020, where Algerians are not present at all. This data probably reflect the actual obstacles that persons from these countries face in accessing the asylum procedure.

On the other hand, as regards nationals of Pakistan, the number of persons disembarked (1,400) was significantly lower than the number of those who applied for asylum (5,515). This is probably because many arrived via land from other European countries.

In 2019, as mentioned in the 2019 Aida country report, ambiguously the Italian coastguard started to classify most of the search and rescue operations as law enforcement operations.[8] Since 2020 it has stopped publishing data on search and rescue operations.[9]

According to the data collected by Altreconomia 4,944 people were rescued in 2020 at sea, on 98 ships.[10] It is not specified whether the authorities or NGOs saved those people, but considering the current situation in the Mediterranean, lacking any rescue operations, it is rather unlikely that the rescues were carried out by the maritime authorities.

In fact, on 31 March 2020, the Sophia Operation started in 2015 ended definitively and was replaced by the IRINI Operation which changes its main task in implementing the arms embargo against Libya imposed by the UN. A note published by the Chamber of Deputies states that after the Sophia operation, in fact, naval devices useful for the purpose of rescuing people in one of the routes most affected by migratory flows no longer operate.[11] In this regard, the study by the Senate Commission notes that, with the Irini mission,  the displacement of the intervention area will bring ships to very decentralized areas with respect to the routes of human traffickers and therefore the “search and rescue component” of the new operation should be strongly reduced compared to Sophia.[12] The report of the Council of Europe Commissioner for human rights, observes that the focus of the EUNAVFOR MED IRINI operations area was the eastern part of the Libyan Search and Rescue Region and the high seas between Greece and Egypt, strongly reducing the possibility of encountering refugees and migrants in distress at sea.[13]

UNHCR data shows that in 2020, 34,154 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea, compared to 11,471 in 2019 and 23,371 in 2018. The highest number of monthly sea arrivals was recorded in July 2020, when 7,064 persons reached Italian shores, followed by 5,360 in November 2020 and 5,326 in August 2020. In December 2020, 1,591 refugees and migrants were recorded at landing points in southern Italy. Approximately 40% of them disembarked on the island of Lampedusa, while 25% reached shore in Calabria. An additional 14% arrived in Apulia, while 11% reached the island of Pantelleria.[14]

The “closure of ports”

The Decree Law 130/2020 repealed the law provision introduced by Decree 53/2019 [15] and introduced a new provision to give a legal basis to the Minister of the Interior bans on transit or stop to ships engaged in rescue at sea,[16] thus leaving the risk of penalization of rescues at sea to persist.

The new legal provision no longer bases the mentioned MOI power to Article 19 (2 g) of the Montego Bay Convention (UNCLOS), according to which, a passage of a ship is not considered innocent in case of – in particular- loading or unloading of persons contrary to the immigration or sanitary laws of the coastal state but, it generically refers to the UNCLOS convention asking that action be taken in compliance with it. [17]

Furthermore, the new legal provision has changed the sanction:  from administrative it becomes criminal and the fine provided – no longer an administrative penalty – is from 10,000 to 50,000 euros, therefore a reduced sum compared to that foreseen by Decree Law n. 53/2019.[18]

According to Decree Law 130/2020 as amended by L 173/2020 the Minister of the Interior, in agreement with the Minister of Defence and with the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, prior information to the President of the Council of Ministers, can limit or forbid the transit and the stop of Italian or foreign merchant ships, or governmental ships used as merchant ships, for reasons of public order and public safety, as long as in compliance with the Montego Bay Convention (UNCLOS). The Decree Law provides both the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Transport with the competence to stop, limit and the transit of ships. In some cases they have overlapping competences.[19]

The decree, however, excludes its application in case of rescue operations immediately notified  to the coordination centre responsible for rescues at sea and to the flag State and carried out in compliance with the indications of the competent search and rescue authority, issued on the basis of the resulting obligations by International conventions on the law of the sea, by the European Convention on Human Rights and by national international and European laws on the right to asylum, without prejudice to what provided for by the Additional Protocol of the Convention of  the United Nations Against Transnational Organized Crime to combat the illicit trafficking of migrants by land, sea and road air (L. 146/2006).[20] This means that the law requires that rescue ships immediately communicate the rescue operation to the coordination centre and to the flag state of the ship and that they conduct the rescue operation according to the instructions received from the search and rescue authority.

The Decree further foresees that the authorities must give indications to the rescue ships that respect the conventions and laws referred to.

As highlighted by jurists, this must imply that, on the one hand, if the indications require not to intervene, these should be respected unless, however, the evolution of the situation demonstrates that, in the absence of other interventions, the risk of injury for people materializes. On the other hand, entrusting people to an unsafe destination cannot be considered compliant with the aforementioned rules, which could be these case when the Libyan authority is indicated as the competent authority.[21]

In 2020, the main measure implemented against NGO ships operating in rescues at sea was that of administrative detention, based on the pretext of technical irregularities

As recorded by Ispi, in a study published by the journal Corriere della Sera,[22] from spring 2020 the measure was applied to the following ships: Alan Kurdi and Alta Mari in May-June, Sea Watch3 and Ocean Viking in July, Sea Watch4 in September, again Alan Kurdi and then Louise Michel in October.

Between 9 October and 21 December 2020 the government simultaneously blocked seven NGOs ships (Jugend Rettet, Sea Watch3, Sea Watch4, Eleonore , Alan Kurdi, Ocean Viking and Louise Michel).

On December 2020 the Administrative Court for Sicily, Palermo, forwarded a request for a preliminary ruling to the CJEU regarding the applicability of the Directive 2009/16 / EC to ships that mainly carry out SAR activities. It did so following the appeal filed by Seawatch 4 against the notice of detention for the master, applied in September 2020, following the rescue at sea of 354 people, which took place at the end of August 2020.

After the rescue and the authorization for the transfer of people on the Allegra ship, in Palermo, the Ministry of Health, imposed anchoring in Palermo for a quarantine period of 14 days for the crew and, at the end, the sanitization of the ship. After sanitization, the Port Authority of Palermo, carried out an inspection as “port state control” (PSC) for unspecified overriding factors recognized with respect to the boat. Following that inspection it imposed the detention on the ship, observing how it did not respect a series of technical requirements and in particular it was not equipped to systematically carry out the rescue of large numbers of people at sea.

The Administrative Court observed that neither in the European, international or in domestic law there are requirements dictated specifically for private ships which can be classified as SAR ships. Therefore, according to the Court, ships carrying out SAR activities should be excluded from the application of international standards (implemented by the Member States and the European Union) on safety in navigation and the protection of the marine environment.

This means that it should not be possible for the authorities of the port state to carry out inspections to impose requirements on merchant ships operating as SAR ships, as the evaluation of these requirements fall under the sole responsibility of the flag State authorities. [23]

Later, on 3 March 2021, having acknowledged the non-application of the accelerated procedure by the CJEU, the Court decided to accept the interim request for suspension advanced by the lawyers of the Seawatch 4. It observed that the Seawatch could not carry out its statutory purposes consisting in  saving people at sea, and, since, at the moment, only NGOs carry out this task, the impediment deriving to such activity from a prolonged detention of the ships appears more relevant than the dangers connected to marine pollution raised by the Port Authorities and by the Ministry of Transports.[24]

For the Gregoretti case,[25] the former Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, faced a criminal trial[26]  but,  in May 2021 the Court of Catania decided not to indict him for kidnapping.[27] On 17 April 2021, the former Minister of Interior, Salvini, was indicted by the Court of Palermo for the kidnapping of 147 migrants aboard the Open Arms, kept aboard the ship for six days in August 2019. The trial will start on September 15, 2021.[28]

On 10 August 2020 the Court of Rome ordered new investigation in a case in it which had already indicted two officers of the Italian coastguard and of the navy, for the delay and failure of rescue in the shipwreck which occurred on 11 October 2013, and in which over 250, many children, died at sea.[29]

On 9 December 2020 the Court of Agrigento sentenced the crew of the Aristeus ship for delay and failure of the rescue in the shipwreck occurred on 3 October 2013 in Lampedusa waters, when 368 migrants lost their lives. The court sentenced the ship’s captain to six years in prison and each crew member to four years. [30]

On the other hand, in March 2021, the Public Prosecutor of Ragusa ordered the search and seizure against the Mar Jonio’s tugboat, accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration for having collected money to take refugees on board from the Etienne oil tanker on 11 September 2020.[31]

Refoulement to Libya

In February 2020, the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya[32] was renewed, even though a Criminal Court ruled that it was not conform the Italian Constitution and international laws.[33] The Memorandum was heavily criticised by numerous associations including ASGI[34], and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.[35]

According to the agreement,[36] Italy undertakes to continue to financially support, with training courses and equipment, the Libyan coast guard of the Ministry of Defence, for search and rescue activities at sea and in the desert, and for the prevention and fight against irregular immigration.

For the two-year period 2020-2021, the Ministry of Interior has foreseen an additional 1.2 million euros in supplies.[37]

Based on the previous agreement, Italy has since 2017 equipped Libya with naval units, supplied and financed the rehabilitation of several patrol boats and ensured the presence in Tripoli of an Italian naval unit (Nave Tremiti, Nave Capri, and then Nave Caprera[38]) to provide to Libya technical assistance and training.[39] Nave Capri and Caprera also coordinated Libyan naval units in the tracking of boats at sea.[40]

The resulting effects of Italy’s indirect pushbacks to Libya and the consequences on people suffering inhuman and cruel treatments are now being examined by the European Court of Human Rights in the case S.S. and others v. Italy concerning a rescue operation of the Sea Watch ship hindered in November 2017 by the Libyan coastguard through a patrol boat donated by Italy and with the coordination of the Italian MRCC.[41]

From January 2020 to September 2020, at least 9,000 people were tracked down by the Libyan coastguard and brought back to Libya.[42] According to data collected by IOM present at the landing sites in Libya, by the end of 2020, 12,000 people were intercepted and brought back by the Libyan authorities meaning that, in 2020, more than 42% of the people who attempted to leave Libya, have been brought back.[43]

Moreover, as highlighted by the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) on 18 December 2019, through a complaint filed against Italy with the UN Human Rights Committee, Italy appears to play a key role in the privatised pushbacks policy which would consist in engaging commercial ships to return refugees and other persons in need of protection to unsafe locations. [44] The complaint concerns the case of an individual refouled to Libya together with 92 migrants after being intercepted in the high seas by a Panamanian merchant vessel, the Nivin, in November 2018.  The legal submission is based on the Forensic Oceanography report, which shows how the operation was fully coordinated by the MRCC of Rome.[45]

Between June 2018 and June 2019, the Forensic Oceanography recorded a total of 13 privatized pushback attempts in the so-called EU and Italy’s system of refoulement by proxy. Except for two that failed as a result of migrants’ resistance, at least 11 of these 13 privatized pushbacks were successful–with three of these diverted to Tunisia. According to the report the outcome of these operations has been exacerbated by the closed-ports policy in Italy, which prevents ships that carried out rescue operations entering Italy’s waters to disembark rescued persons.[46]

In February 2021, five Eritrean citizens, with the support of the ASGI and Amnesty International, initiated a civil action to declare the illegality of the refoulement to Libya carried out on 2 July 2018 by the ship “Asso Ventinove” of the Augusta Offshore during an operation coordinated by the Italian authorities stationed in Libya and with the collaboration of the Libyan Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, on 3 June 2020 the Criminal Appeal Court of Palermo, overturned the decision of the Criminal Court of Trapani that, in May 2019, had acquitted two migrants rescued at sea by Vos Thalassa ship in 2018 who had rebelled aboard the ship, once they realized that the ship was bringing them back to Libya, threatening the captain and the crew. The judge had recognized they acted in self-defence as the act of bringing them back to Libya would have been a crime.[47] Instead, according to the Court of Appeal, the defendants had voluntarily placed themselves in a dangerous condition, having planned an extremely dangerous sea crossing and having then asked for help in order to be recovered from rescue boats. Consequently, according to the Court their violent and threatening conduct – aimed at preventing the crew of the Vos Thalassa from returning them to the Libyan Coast Guard – cannot be considered self-defence.[48]

Pushbacks at Adriatic ports

As monitored by ASGI, No Name Kitchen, Ambasciata dei Diritti di Ancona and Associazione SOS Diritti, refoulements continue to be carried out from Italy to Greece at Adriatic maritime borders. In 2021, readmissions and refoulements were recorded to Albania and Croatia. [49]

Access to the asylum procedure and to asylum information is very poor and transfers or re-admissions are being immediately executed to send foreign nationals back to Greece.

In many cases where the person has managed to get in touch with the mentioned network of NGOs operating at the Adriatic ports, he or she has managed to apply for asylum. In the others the push back was carried out to the port of departure. According to the testimonies collected by the Network, if the ferry leaves immediately the person is kept on board. Otherwise, he or she is dropped off, held in a police station inside the port, and then taken back to the ferry.

In 2020 the testimonies recorded by the NGO No Name Kitchen regarding readmissions to Greece from the Italian Adriatic maritime borders were published by the Border Violence Monitoring Network.  They were collected in the Black Book of Pushbacks, published by BVMN on December 2020.[50]

No Name Kitchen recorded – inter alia – the readmissions to Greece of many Afghans:

  • 5 Afghans, out of which 2 unaccompanied minors, from Bari maritime border between October and November 2020;[51]
  • 9 Afghans, out of which 1 minor, from Venice maritime border between September and October, [52] and on February 2020;[53]
  • 2 Afghans from Brindisi maritime border, on September 2020;
  • 4 Afghans, out of which one unaccompanied minor, from Ancona maritime border, on October 2020 and April 2020.[54]

Through F.O.I.A request sent to public administrations, the mentioned NGOs belonging to the Adriatic network came to know about the following readmissions or pushbacks carried out from the 1 January 2020 to 15 April 2020:

  • 311 refoulements at Bari maritime border;
  • 53 refoulements at Brindisi maritime border;
  • 17 refoulements at Venice maritime border;
  • 13 refoulements at Ancona maritime border.

Also, through another F.O.I.A request, they came to know that, from 1 January 2019 to 31 March 2020, from the air and maritime border of Ancona there were 149 readmissions  and 56 pushbacks.

Early 2020, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe rejected the request made by the Italian Government to close the supervision processes initiated following the Sharifi ruling.[55]

 

Arrivals by air

 

As reported to Parliament on 25 November 2020 by the central director of immigration and border police, of the MoI, Massimo Bontempi, the number of refoulements carried out from air borders in 2020 was 3,100, a number that the director defines as very high considering that the flow of air traffic has been extremely low. [56]

At the Fiumicino airport of Rome, the Prefecture of Rome has entrusted the Albatros1973 cooperative for informing and managing foreign people arriving at the air border who want to seek asylum or who are Dublin returnees. Over a third of the people came with flights from Germany.

At Milan airport of Malpensa, Valdensian Diakonia, charged with implementing services for asylum seekers arriving from the air border in 2020, was replaced by the cooperative Ballafon in early 2021.

At Venice, the cooperative Giuseppe Olivotti, was responsible, up to December 2020, under the agreement with the Prefecture of Venice, of arrivals of asylum seekers and Dublin returnees, not with a stable presence at the airport, but with presence on call.

 

 Arrivals by land

Arrivals at the Slovenian land border

The MOI central director of immigration and border police, Massimo Bontempi, reported to Parliament that as of 20 November 2020, 4,121 irregular third country nationals were traced at the Italian-Slovenian border.[57]

In 2020, cases of re-admissions to Slovenia from Trieste and Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, without any formal procedure or decision were massively implemented.[58] The readmissions are carried out based on the Readmission Agreement signed by Italian and Slovenian Government in 1996, never ratified by the Italian Parliament, contrary to Article 80 of Italian Constitution.

On 14 January 2020, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region announced its intention to purchase camera traps to be placed on the paths near the eastern borders to identify the transit of irregular migrants in real time.[59]  In mid-May 2020, the Minister of Interior announced an increase in readmissions to be made to the eastern border, as agreed with Slovenia, and the sending 40 agents to the border.[60]

On 23 May 2020 a Slovenian newspaper „Primorski Dnevnik“ reported the testimony of an Italian couple blocked at the border with Trieste by paramilitary Slovenian agents who forced them to kneel with rifles pointed at their heads declaring that they were looking for migrants.[61]

On 20 May 2020 the Questura of Pordenone announced on its website that it had readmitted two Afghan citizens to Slovenia, found hidden in a truck among pallets of wood. The two citizens, aged 20 and 21, were taken back to Gorizia border and from there handed over to the Slovenian authorities. [62]

On 28 May 2020, the Prefect of Trieste then stated that “(..) the readmitted migrant is not deprived of the possibility of applying for asylum, as Slovenia is part of the European context”.[63]

On 2 June 2020, replying to ICS- Refugee Office and Caritas, responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in Trieste, the Prefect of Trieste added that according to the directives received from the Government, readmissions are implemented to complete the provisions set up in the Dublin Regulation.[64]

On 24 July 2020, the Ministry of the Interior, responding with a written note to the urgent question presented by the Member of Parliament Riccardo Magi, on the situation of the “informal readmissions” of foreign citizens at the Italian-Slovenian land border, confirmed that these readmissions take place without formal provisions and, above all, stated that readmissions against foreign citizens are applied “(..) even if the intention to request international protection is expressed “and that” (..) if the conditions for the readmission request are met (..), the request is not sent to the responsible Questura for the formalization of the asylum request (…)”.[65]

The Italian Minister of the Interior declared, in response to a second parliamentary request on 13 January 2021, that, in 2020, 1,301 people were readmitted to Slovenia.[66] However, replying to a data request access made by the journal Altreconomia, the Ministry of the Interior – Central Directorate of Immigration and Border Police – reported that readmissions to Slovenia in 2020 had been 1,294.

Slovenia, on the other hand, in the data published by the Slovenian State Police[67] reports that in 2020 readmissions from Italy to Slovenia affected 1,116 people.

In September a group of Eritreans was readmitted in Slovenia and by chain to Bosnia.

On 18 January 2021 the Civil Court of Rome accepted the appeal submitted with the support of ASGI by a Pakistani man, readmitted to Slovenia on July 2020 without having access to asylum, and then readmitted and pushed back by chain to Croatia and to Bosnia. ( See access to the territory). The Government appealed the decision and the case is pending at the time of writing.

While, families and vulnerable people should be excluded from the procedure, readmissions were also carried out against those who claimed to be minors at the border, as reported by the network Tavolo Minori Migranti ( Minor Migrants). [68] This took place on the basis of two directives on the age assessment sent on 31 August and 21 December 2020 by the Public Prosecutor at the Juvenile Court of Trieste. Contrary to the guarantees enshrined in the Zampa Law (L 47/2017), these Directives generally authorize the police to consider migrants intercepted at the Italy-Slovenia border as adults in case the police itself has no doubts about their adulthood, regardless of their eventual declaration of minor age and the consequent judicial review required by law. These indications assign a discretionary power to the Public Security authority for the attribution of age to migrants and refugees subjected to border controls and in so doing clearly contrasts with the provisions of the L 47/2017, which provides that the age assessment must be carried out through documents or through socio-health examinations, always through a multidisciplinary procedure, as part of a proceeding under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court.[69] ( see age assessment)

As reported my some media inquiries[70], many unaccompanied children, currently present in Bosnia without any protection or shelter, underwent this procedure once they arrived in Italy, without even receiving any report regarding the denial of the minor age.

The situation at the French land borders

Many migrants attempting to cross the borders with France, Austria and Switzerland have been subject to rejection at the border, often with the use of violence. A detailed account of the situation at the borders in previous years is available in the previous updates of the AIDA report.[71]

In 2020 push-backs at the border with France remained systematic. In a joint press release, numerous associations operating on the Italian-French border[72] have reported that in 2020, as in 2019 as well,[73] many minors, in particular Sudanese and Afghanis, were returned to Italy from Menton.

From 14 December 2020, mixed Italian-French patrols began to operate along the border of Ventimiglia with the task of patrolling the borders according to the provisions of bilateral police cooperation agreements based on the 1997 Chambery agreements.[74]

As reported by ASGI,[75] people stopped at the border or on the train are taken to the San Luigi station, identified and given a “refusal of entry” (refus d’entrée). The rejection procedure is completed with the handing over of the concerned persons to the Italian police authorities who invite them to proceed on foot to the city of Ventimiglia. If the third country nationals are intercepted in border areas as defined by the bilateral readmission agreement, they are simply readmitted without any written measure.

However, in June 2020, two Turkish citizens, Kurds, pushed back with a “refus d’entrée” from France were stopped in Ventimiglia and notified with an expulsion decree, although, in May 2020, they had already applied for asylum in Trieste. From Trieste the two applicants had been moved to the Hub Mattei in Bologna from where they had fled due to the serious conditions of overcrowding incompatible with the measures imposed by the pandemic. The Civil Court of Genoa immediately suspended the expulsion decrees and, with a decision of 11 December 2020, and annulled one of the two[76]. The other case is still pending.

Due to the pandemic, both transit areas (Ventimiglia and Oulx) suddenly found themselves – totally or partially – without accommodation facilities, while the flows that had slowed down in the first months of the year returned to earlier levels after spring. In Ventimiglia, despite a drop in flows, local associations have provided assistance to about 250 people a day. On 31 July 2020 the Roja Camp, managed by the Italian Red Cross, was closed,[77] after a previous period of quarantine due to two positive cases of Covid19, which prevented new entries. Being the only formal place of accommodation for people in transit, its closure has led to the proliferation of informal settlements and the occupation of public spaces to deal with winter nights. Facilities provided by the local Caritas are only able to guarantee a limited number of places for single parents and children.

The ongoing internal border controls and the absence of accommodation facilities has changed the routes along the border. The number of people coming from the Balkan or Adriatic routes seems to be increasing but they are accompanied only up to a certain point of the route, often in the Savona area at about two hours from the border, and invited to continue on foot following the railways. In this context, on 23 December 2020, two young Kurds lost their lives hit by a train running near Quiliano.[78]

The other route to attempt entry into France goes through the Val di Susa, which passes through Bardonecchia and the Frejus pass, on one side, or, on the other, through Oulx and Claviere leading to the Montgenèvre pass. According to MEDU[79] between September and December 2020, over 4,700 people passed through Oulx, in most cases Afghans (44%), Iranians (23%), Algerians (8%). People pushed back are handed over to the Italian police in Claviere which takes them to Oulx where they receive legal orientation on Italian legislation and on the reception system. In February 2021, the rooms set up at the Bardonecchia station that constituted the only form of government reception were made inaccessible due to the covid19 epidemic.

 

 

 

[1] Civil Court of Rome, 18 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/33d0VnE.

[2] Civil Court of Rome, 18 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/33d0VnE.

[3]  Civil Court of Rome, decision of 3 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3oYocUq.

[4] ASGI, Riconosciuto il diritto di entrare in Italia a chi è statao respinto illegittimamente in Libia, 3 December 2019, available in Italian at:  https://bit.ly/2yJEKtF; Amnesty, Importantissima sentenza del Tribunale civile di Roma, 2 December 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2yHXdXH.

[5]  Civil Court of Rome, decision 22917 of 28 November 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2LgCMnj; For information in English see also: EDAL, Italy: Recognition of the right to enter as compensation for illegitimate collective expulsions to Libya by the Italian Coast Guard in 2009, 28 November 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2SR3S8O.

[6] Moi Data, available at: https://bit.ly/3nMiIvo

[7]  Moi data, available at: https://bit.ly/3h0JJKv 

[8] See: Altreconomia, Se i naufraghi nel Mediterraneo diventano “persone intercettate in operazioni di polizia”. Le ricadute sui soccorsi, 8 October 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3dwtQ9p.

[9]See Altreconomia, “Soccorsi nel Mediterraneo, il report scomparso della guardia costiera italiana”, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3tgAI27, 20 July 2020

[10] See data in the reportage of Altreconomia, Appalti sulle frontiere: Leonardo fornirà un drone al Viminale per sorvegliare il Mediterraneo, 17 february 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3b1q4WU

[11]Chamber of Deputies, Emergenza COVID-19: le misure in materia di immigrazione, 11 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2RsUUAA.

[12] Senate studies service, “Da Sophia A Irini: La Missione Militare Ue nel Mediterraneo cambia nome, e Priorità, April 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2Rq68G4.

[13] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Report: “A distress call for human rights”, March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2QX5ikh.

[14] UNHCR, Italy Sea Arrivals Dashboard – December 2020, 29 January 2021, available at : https://bit.ly/3uw3pZN

[15] In detail, Article 1 (1, c and d) DL 130/2020 repealed Articles 11 (1 ter) and 12 (6bis, 6 ter, 6 quater) of the TUI.

[16] Article 1 (2) DL 130/2020, converted with amendments by L 173/2020.

[17] According to Article 19(2) lett.g) Montego Bay Convention “a passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities: (..) g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State).

[18]  Decree Law 53/2019 foresaw an administrative penalty between € 150,000 to € 1,000,000.

[19]  The provision refers to Article 83 of Navigation Code, according to which the Ministry of Transports can limit or ban the transit or stay of merchant ships for reasons of public order, navigation safety and protection of the marine environment, the last one together with the Ministry of the Environment.

[20]  Article 1 (2) DL 130/2020 converted by L. 173/2020

[21]  See Il delitto d’inosservanza della limitazione o del divieto di transito e sosta nel mare territoriale, Alberto di Martino e Laura Ricci, in Immigrazione, Protezione Internazionale e Misure Penali, commento al DL 130/2020.

[22] Corriere della Sera, Migranti, Lamorgese ha bloccato più navi Ong di Salvini, 14 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3xFLEKl

[23] Administrative Court of Sicily, decision no. 2974 of 23 December 2020, available at:  https://bit.ly/3uldPvN

[24]  Administrative Court of Sicily, interim decision no. 145 of 2 March 2021.

[25]  By the end of July 2019 the then Minister of the Interior forbade the landing of the people rescued by the Gregoretti Italian Coast Guard ship. Only after six days, on 31 July 2019, the 116 people were disembarked and transferred to the Pozzallo hotspot before being redistributed between France, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland. 50 people remained in Italy in charge of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).

[26] Adnkronos, Gregoretti, nuova udienza per Salvini a Catania, 5 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3xNLY9W

[27]  Ansa, Gregoretti: Gup, non luogo a procedere per Salvini. Prosciolto perché “il fatto non sussiste”, 15 May 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3oZysMh

[28]         Il Corriere, Open Arms, Salvini rinviato a giudizio. Decisione del ministro e sbarco su ordine del pm: le differenze con il caso Gregoretti, 17 April 2021, available in Italian at : https://bit.ly/3aZKbVe.

[29] Ansa, Naufragio bambini, due ufficiali a giudizio, 16 September 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3fBEFsM; see also: Alarmphone, Left-to-Die Trial in Rome, 2 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2LeRHyn; ECRE, Italy: Officials of the Italian Coast Guard Prosecuted for Shipwreck in 2013, 20 September 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/3ckBunh.

[30] Nuovi Desaparecidos, “Strage di Lampedusa prime condanne ma non basta, occorre indagare sui soccorsi”, 10 December 2020, avaulable at  http://nuovidesaparecidos.net/?p=4169

[31] Fanpage, Inchiesta su Mare Jonio, accusata di aver ricevuto soldi in cambio di un trasbordo di migranti, 1 March 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3eWWsLh.

[32] Avvenire, 12 February 2020, Esclusiva. Memorandum Italia-Libia, la bozza integrale: la partita dei fondi a Tripoli, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3bnLOJQ.

[33]  Criminal Court of Trapani, sentence of 23 May 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3dutMHl; According to article 80 of the Italian Constitution, political agreements can be signed only with Parliament’s authorization. Furthermore, it is an agreement concluded with a party, the Libyan coastguard, repeatedly referred to as responsible for crimes against humanity. Therefore, the court found that the agreement violates the principle of non-refoulement.

[34]  ASGI; Memorandum Italia-Libia, lettera aperta del Tavolo Asilo alle istituzioni italiane: non rinnovatelo, 30 october 2019, available in Italian at:  https://bit.ly/2Wik9Wi.

[35]  On 31 January 2020, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the Italian government to urgently suspend the ongoing cooperation activities with the Libyan Coast Guard which affect the repatriation of people intercepted at sea in Libya where they have suffered serious human rights violations, see: ASGI, Il governo italiano deve sospendere ogni cooperazione con la Guardia Costiera libica, 31 January 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2zmpaEy.

[36]  A copy of the agreement is published in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3ciy1FS. 

[37] Altreconomia, L’Italia continua ad equipaggiare la Libia per respingere i migranti, il caso delle motovedette ricondotte a Tripoli, 2 March 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2SSmsNU.

[38] Analisi difesa, nave Caprera ha sostituito la Capri nel porto di Tripoli, 4 April 2018, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2SP6Hag.

[39] ASGI, ASGI chiede l’immediato annullamento del Memorandum con la Libia, 2 February 2020, available in Italian at:  https://bit.ly/2zlh1QB.

[40] Altreconomia, Il grande inganno della Libia sicura e le tappe della regia italiana dei respingimenti delegati, 18 April 2019, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/35MIMgW.

[41]  ECtHR, Application No. 21660/18 , S.S. and others v. Italy, available at: https://bit.ly/3dvkBGt; the Third party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights is available at : https://bit.ly/35OFYjn.

[42] Report of Fondazione Migrantes, Il diritto d’asilo, 2020.

[43] Form elaborated by IOM for the Ministry of Labour’s  Monitoring report on unaccompanied minors, December 2020; see also the following report: https://bit.ly/34nMePk, p.26.

[44] Communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committe In the case of SDG against Italy, available at : https://cutt.ly/cyv9xIT.

[45] See also: Repubblica, Migranti, un report accusa l’Italia: “Respingimento illegale dei 93 salvati dal mercantile Nivin e riportati in Libia con la forza”, 18 December 2019, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/yyv9cb0.

[46] Forensic Oceanography Nivin report, affiliated to the Forensic Architecture agency, Goldsmiths,
University of London, December 2019, available at: https://cutt.ly/Hyv9voA.

[47] Criminal Court of Trapani, cited above. See: Diritto penale contemporaneo, La legittima difesa dei migranti e l’illegittimità dei respingimenti verso la Libia (caso Vos-Thalassa), Luca Masera, 24 June 2019, available in Italian  at: https://cutt.ly/7yv9bfe; see also: EDAL, Italy – Tribunal of Trapani – Office of the Judge for Preliminary Investigations (Piero Grillo), available at: https://cutt.ly/Fyv9nHb.

[48] Criminal Court of Appeal of Palermo, Decision no. 1525/2020, of 3 June 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3vIWwFg.

[49] See ASGI, Network Porti adriatici: continuano i respingimenti e le riammissioni, April 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2Rsfoty

[50] Border Violence Monitoring Network, Black Book of Pushback, Volume I, December 2020, available in English at: https://bit.ly/3uka61O.

[51]  The readmissions took place on 7 November,8 November, 20 November, and 12 October. The first are published on the Black book of pushbacks, the last testimony is available at: https://bit.ly/3eWf0vq

[52]  Readmissions took place on 9 September 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3ejQqFs; 24 October 2020; 2 October 2020 regarding one minor who told to have been readmitted with other 6 afghans, available at: https://bit.ly/3nVxIr1

[53]  See BVMN Black Book of pushbacks, Volume I, testimony of 26 February 2020.

[54] Testimony of 10 October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3eN3DFO; 3 October 2020, available at BVMN Black Book of pushbacks, Volume I; and 23 April 2020.

[55] See: Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Communication from a NGO (Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull’Immigrazione) (21 January 2020) in the case of SHARIFI AND OTHERS v. Italy and Greece (Application No. 16643/09), available at: https://cutt.ly/Syv9W2y; ASGI, Respingimenti: l’Italia ancora sotto indagine per il caso Sharifi, 8 April 2020, available in Italian at: https://cutt.ly/Tyv9ESC.

[56]See Massimo Bontempi’s audition at Parliament, Schengen Committee, 25 November 2020, available at https://www.camera.it/leg18/1079?idLegislatura=18&tipologia=indag&sottotipologia=c30_migranti&anno=2020&mese=11&giorno=25&idCommissione=30&numero=0029&file=indice_stenografico

[57]  See Massimo Bontempi’s audition at Parliament, Schengen Committee, 25 November 2020

[58]  See The New Humanitarian, “Europe’s chain of migrant expulsion, from Italy to Bosnia”, available at: https://bit.ly/3f3nOje, 17 November 2020

[59] Il Gazzettino, Migranti. Fototrappole per animali sul Carso per “catturare” i migranti irregolari, 14 January 2020, available in Italian at:  https://cutt.ly/8yv9FKt.

[60] Triesteprima, Rotta balcanica, Serracchiani: “In arrivo da Roma 40 poliziotti a Trieste”, 14 May 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2LVpjln; see also. Il Piccolo, Nuovi arrivi dalla rotta balcanica. Roma invia 40 agenti al confine, 15 May 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3gpqVBV.

[61] Triesteprima, “Stoj” e fucile puntato contro: la gita in bosco si trasforma in un incubo„Intimano l’alt e gli puntano il fucile contro: la gita in bosco si trasforma in un incubo“, 23 May 2020, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2ZCAKXd; see also, Primorski Dnevnik, »Stoj, sit down« … nato mu je z avtomatsko puško meril v glavo, 23 May 2020, available in Slovenian at: https://bit.ly/2ZG61s7.

[62] Questura of Pordenone, website, “La Questura di Pordenone riammette in territorio sloveno due cittadini stranieri nascosti tra bancali di legna, available at : https://bit.ly/3uz5uVr, 20 May 2020

[63] Triesteprima, “Migranti rintracciati e rispediti indietro, come la Rotta Balcanica diventa un’Odissea, 28 May 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3f4xLNa

[64]  Il Piccolo, “Le realtà dell’accoglienza contro i rimpatri informali: pratiche inaccettabili che calpestano i diritti”, 2 June 2020.

[65]  Urgent request 2/00861 presented by Riccardo Magi on 14 July 2020, https://bit.ly/3hilQxY; and the written answer by the MoI, available at: https://bit.ly/3tzWzBO

[66]  See intervention in Parliament by the Minister of the Interior, Lamorgese, minute 3:00, available at: https://bit.ly/3tzqLgH

[67]  Data available at the : https://bit.ly/33vinEo

[68] The “Tavolo Minori Migranti” is a un network coordinated by Save the Children, to which belong also AiBi, Amnesty International, Asgi,Caritas Italiana, Centro Astalli, CeSpi, CIR, CNCA, Defence for Children, Emergency, Intersos, Oxfam, Salesiani per il Sociale, SOS Villaggi dei bambini and Terre des Hommes. It’s born after the approval of L. 47/2017 ai ing at monitoring its full implementation regarding the effective defense of minors.

[69]  See Ansa, Migranti: 12 associazioni contestano Procura Minori Trieste, 10 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/2Q4O1Fz; see also ASGI, “Accertamento dell’età, due direttive della Procura della Repubblica per i minori di Trieste in contrasto con la legge”, available at: https://www.asgi.it/notizie/trieste-minori-eta/, 10 February 2021

[70] Il Corriere della Sera», A Bihac, la guerra nella neve ai fantasmi che l’Italia respinge 23 January 2021; «La Repubblica», I ragazzi nel gelo di Lipa dopo i respingimenti “L’Italia ci apra i confini”, 30 January 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3o1QrRP

[71]  AIDA, Country Report Italy, 2017 Update, March 2018, available at: https://bit.ly/2Ga01zb, 22-24.

[72] La Cimade, Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières, Secours Catholique, Anafé, Help Refugees, Refugee Rights Europe, Refugee Youth Service, Safe Passage). See: L’Humanitè, Mineurs isolés : « Des pratiques contraires à la convention internationale des droits de l’enfant », 12 October 2020, available in French at: https://bit.ly/2Q4OkjH

[73]  As reported by Anafè and HRW, in 2019, some UAMs were pushed back to Italy by the French police, regardless of their minor age. See Anafé, Persona non grata – Conséquences des politiques sécuritaires et migratoires à la frontière franco-italienne, Rapport d’observations 2017-2018, février 2019 ; Human Rights Watch, « Ça dépend de leur humeur » – Traitement des enfants migrants non accompagnés dans les Hautes-Alpes, 5 septembre 2019

[74] Riviera time, “Una ‘squadra mista’ italo-francese: parte da Ventimiglia il progetto pilota della Polizia di Frontiera”, available at: https://bit.ly/3bd9bbM, 21 December 2020.

[75] ASGI, La situazione al confine tra Italia e Francia: effetti della pandemia e tendenze consolidate., available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/2RDidb9, 22 February  2021; see also Medecins Sans Frontieres, DANGEROUS CROSSINGS AT THE NORTHERN BORDERS OF ITALY, Field Visits Report| Dec. 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3evBBzV ; MEDU Rapporto sulla situazione umanitaria dei migranti in transito lungo la frontiera nord-ovest tra Italia e Francia, October 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3y1SzgQ; Refugee Rights Europe, Pushbacks and rights violation at Europe’s border, available at https://bit.ly/34BOR00.

[76]  Civil Court of Genoa, Decision 11 December 2020

[77] Parole sul confine, “Il Campo Roja di Ventimiglia ha definitivamente chiuso”, 24 August 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/3uFs7YE

[78] Ansa, Due immigrati travolti da un treno nel savonese, 23 Dicember 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2QYDOLr

[79]MEDU, Ancora critica la situazione dei migranti sulla rotta nord ovest delle Alpi, 4 February 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/33u6GNZ

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation