Access to the territory and push backs


Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 31/05/23


In 2022, according to MOI data,[1] 105,129 people disembarked in Italy, 37,652 more than the previous year, marking a 55.79% increase in the number of disembarkations. Over 31,500 came from Libya, more than 20,000 from Tunisia and 13,000 from Türkiye. Around 13,000 people arrived from the Balkan Route at the land border of Trieste.[2]


Arrivals by sea

In 2022, 105,129 persons disembarked in Italy,[3] with a relevant increase compared to 2021 (67,477) and an even more relevant increase when compared to 2020 (34,154) and 2019 (11,471), almost in line with the arrivals of 2017 (119,369). In 2022, there were a total of 77,200 asylum applicants.[4]

The number of unaccompanied minors (Minori Stranieri Non Accompagnati – MSNA) reached 13,386, compared to 10,053 in 2021.[5]

The main nationality of people disembarked was Egyptian (20,542 in total), which represented a change compared to 2021, when most of the people disembarked were Tunisian. The number of Egyptian nationals registered as asylum seekers in 2022 was 7,102.

Considering sea arrivals, 53,310 third country nationals came from Libya, 32,371 from Tunisia, 16,205 from Türkiye and 1,603 from Lebanon, a maritime route used in a significantly higher number of cases when compared to the past  (in 2021, only 141 migrants left Lebanese shores to reach Italy).[6] In 2022, at least 24,684 persons were returned to Libya, normally after being intercepted by the so-called Libyan Coastguards in cooperation with EU’s MRCC or with the cooperation of Frontex aerial assets,[7] which represented a 24%  decrease compared to 2021 (when it was estimated that the total number was 32,425).[8]

Italy continues to play a key role in cases of indirect refoulement to Libya, continuing to equip and train the Libyan authorities thus preventing access to protection for thousands of people.[9] As reported by authoritative sources,[10] Libyan Coast Guards officers are often directly linked with smuggling networks, fostering a wicked chain of human rights violations.

In addition, Italian authorities classify arrivals of migrants in a way that lacks transparency. Out of the people arrived in Italy only one fifth is classified as rescued as part of SAR activities coordinated by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) of the Italian Coast Guard. According to the media, around 14,000 people were rescued by NGOs, which only amounted to 14% of the total number of people who arrived. Once more, this data highlights how inconsistent are the theories attributing a “pull factor” role to NGO vessels for what concerns departures from Libya.[11]

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.[12] 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 extremely decentralised 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.[13] 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.[14]

UNHCR data shows that in 2022, 105,131 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy by sea and 1,496 died or disappeared on the route.[15]

The highest number of monthly sea arrivals was recorded in August when 16,816 persons reached the Italian coasts.[16]

Regarding the external sea borders with Tunisia, on 9 December 2020 the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a technical agreement with the UN Office for Services and Projects (UNOPS) to support the North African country in border control activities and in fighting migrant trafficking.[17] With at least 1,922 Tunisians repatriated in 2020 and 1,872 in 2021, which made Tunisia the main destination for repatriation from Italy (73.5% of the total number of migrants repatriated).[18]

As of 26 October, according to FTDES (Tunisian Forum for social and economic rights) data for 2022, more than 29,000 migrants were intercepted at sea and 544 died. MRCC Tunisia is independently managing Coastal guard activities and search and rescue operations even if a Search and Rescue area has not been communicated to IMO so far. Between 2020 and 2021, six projects funded by the Italian government through the so-called “Rewarding Fund for Repatriation Policies[19]” have been implemented within the framework of actions aiming at strengthening borders and providing economical support to return. An estimated amount of 19 million Euro has been granted by Italy. In 2021, the project called “Support to border control and management of migratory influx to Tunisia” received a second tranche of 7 million euros, that will be assigned as a result of concrete results in border control activities. According to a journalistic enquiry, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to be effectively cooperating with UNOPS to obtain the assignment of funds aimed at requiring maintenance interventions for patrol boats.[20]

On 26 February, nearby the Calabrian coast – precisely in Steccato di Cutro -, a tragic shipwreck took place.[21] A boat originally departing from Izmir in Türkiye got stranded at a hundred fifty metres from the coast after a five-day journey. By 16 April 2023, the number of deaths amounted to 94, including 35 minors; survivors were only 80, and around 15 people were missing.[22] Since the morning of the shipwreck, the dynamic of the event appeared unclear. According to declarations released by the different authorities involved in the following days, an aerial Frontex asset was present on the scene the night before the tragedy and sent an alert to the Italian Finance and Coast Guard (Guardia di Finanza and Guardia Costiera) and the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center to inform having spotted a boat which, according to thermal camera data appeared to carry several people and was lacking life vests. Apparently, Guardia di Finanza took the lead of the operation; this entailed, however, that the operation was classified as a law enforcement operation, in accordance with a practice established in 2019.[23] Around 02am, two patrol boats left Crotone and Taranto’s harbours to reach the vessel but, due to the marine conditions, were not able to do so. Up to this moment, the operation was still considered as law enforcement operation instead of a search and rescue one, even if the sea conditions had worsened and there were indicators of the presence of multiple people onboard. Around 3.40am, staff from the Guardia di Finanza reached out to the port authority (Capitaneria di porto) of Reggio Calabria to ask if any vessel of the Coast guard was available, receiving a negative answer. After an emergency phone call, police authorities at land were informed about the emergency conditions of the boat and started patrolling the shores waiting for the boat to dock. A new emergency call reached the Coast guard around 4am; only at this stage, the operation was classified as a search and rescue operation. An official declaration from the Ministry of Interior Matteo Piantedosi stated that the accident took place at 5.30am. The first rescue operation was carried out by some fishermen and personnel from the military force of Carabinieri, but the situation immediately appeared tragic.

On 9 March, ASGI and other 41 associations submitted a collective complaint/report to the Public Prosecutor Office in the form of a report, asking to open extensive investigation aimed at ascertaining the public responsibilities of the authorities involved in the management of the operation.[24] At the same time ASGI and other CSOs supported survivors and family member of the missing and deceased migrants for the identifications of victims and the right to truth, reporting the lack of a procedural correct management by Public authorities on this specific issue and reported as well about the unlawful and inhumane treatment of the survivors both in term of reception conditions and access to legal information.[25]

The “closure of ports”

The Decree Law 130/2020 repealed the law provision introduced by Decree 53/2019 [26] 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,[27] thus leaving the risk of penalization of rescues at sea to persist.

According to Decree Law 130/2020 as amended by L 173/2020 the Minister of the Interior, 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.[28]

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. The Decree further foresees that the authorities must give indications to the rescue ships in respect for the conventions and laws under which they operate.

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 materialises. On the other hand, entrusting people to an unsafe destination cannot be considered compliant with the aforementioned rules, which could be the case when the Libyan authority is indicated as the competent authority.[29]

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,[30] 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. [31]

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.[32]

The Administrative Court decision however was declared as void by the High Administrative Court of Sicily,[33] following the appeal submitted by the Minister of Interior.[34]

The policy to block the rescue ships for administrative reasons continued in 2021. The ship Sea Eye 4 was again stopped in the Port of Palermo in June 2021 following an inspection.

In December 2021, the Geo Barents of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Sea-Watch had to wait a long time offshore before being assigned a safe landing place after complicated rescues. In January 2022, the Ocean Viking of SOS Mediterranee was blocked in Trapani after an 11-hour inspection by the Coast Guard for “malfunction of the on-board power supply” and “presence of flammable liquids stored in unsuitable premises of the ship” and then subjected to administrative detention.[35]

For what concerns the Gregoretti case,[36] the former Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, faced a criminal trial,[37]  but in May 2021 the Court of Catania decided not to indict him for kidnapping.[38] 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 that started on September 15, 2021 is still pending at the moment of writing.[39]

On 10 August 2020, the Court of Rome ordered new investigation in a case in which it 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.[40]

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.[41]

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 taking refugees on board from the Etienne oil tanker on 11 September 2020 and having later accepted a donation from it.[42] In  January 2022, another investigation against Mar Jonio concerning  the rescue and transportation of 30 migrants in 2019 was archived by the Judge for preliminary Investigation  (GIP)  of Agrigento.[43]

On 15 December 2022, the Court of Rome ruled on a case regarding the death of 286 people, including at least 60 minors, following a shipwreck that occurred near the island of Lampedusa, but within Malta search and rescue region. Despite six verbal communications between a doctor on-board and the Italian MRCC and the presence of various commercial ships in the vicinity of the distress area, the Italian authorities did not take responsibility for the coordination of the SAR operation, nor informed Maltese authorities. The Coordination centre ordered the commercial ships to move away from the distress area, which in turn led to the death of the migrants onboard. The criminal procedure against the General Commander for the port Authority and the Chief of the branch of CINCNAV control room indicted for refusal of acts of duty (art. 328 penal code) and involuntary manslaughter (art. 589 penal code) was concluded when the Court dismissed the claim on the ground that it was statute barred., even if it ascertained the criminal responsibilities of the indicted, observing that the attempt to avoid the obligation of coordination and assistance to search and rescue operation  constitutes a reason for criminal accountability.[44] The case was previously scrutinised by the UN Committee for Human Rights, that condemned Italy and Malta for the violation of art. 2 (par 3) and art. 6 of the ICCPR.[45]

By the end of 2022, after the appointment of the new government, the “closed ports” policy made a comeback. On 24 October, the new Ministry of Interior, Matteo Piantedosi, issued a Directive (prot. 0070326)[46] denying access to Italian ports to the Ocean Viking and Humanity 1, ships which had been involved in SAR operations in the Mediterranean. The Italian government instructed the involved ships to refer to the flag States (Norway and Germany) for the indication of a place of safety.[47] On 4 November 2022, the government issued a decree allowing the Geo Barents and Humanity 1 ships to enter the territorial waters only with the purpose to disembark migrants in critical health conditions. The selective approach followed by the government failed due to the principles of international and maritime law which, as previously underlined, impose the duty to rescue people in distress and to grant a place of safety to the passengers.[48] In particular, European institutions raised their concerns[49] and appeals was submitted to local Courts[50] in order to get a decision of illegitimacy with regards to the selective approach introduced by the Directive.

Following the same purpose to prevent disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea by hindering NGO’s search and rescue activities, the government adopted the Law decree 1/2023 which was converted into Law 15/2023 on 24 February 2023. The new law[51] once again modifies the prerequisites for the exercise of the faculties attributed to the Government and, at the same time, introduces rules of conduct for vessels (and their captains) carrying out search and rescue activities at sea, and consequent sanctions for those deemed responsible for non-compliance or erroneous compliance with those rules or orders issued by the Government by means of a specific inter-ministerial measure. With regards to the prerequisites, it is foreseen that the Italian government could limit or deny the transit or staying in its territorial waters of NGO ships when one of the following conditions is not respected:

  1. a) the vessel systematically carrying out search and rescue activities has the authorizations issued by the authorities of the flag state and possesses the technical-nautical eligibility requirements for safe navigation;
  2. b) timely information is immediately provided to the rescued persons about the possibility of seeking international protection;
  3. c) the assignment of the port of disembarkation is requested in the immediacy of the event; and
  4. d) the port of disembarkation is reached without delay;
  5. e) complete and detailed information on the rescue operation is provided to the maritime or police authorities;
  6. f) the search and rescue strategy did not contribute to dangerous situations on board or prevent the port of landing from being reached in a timely manner.

In the practice of SAR operations conducted by NGO ships, most conditions imposed by the law decree are already fulfilled. Humanitarian vessels already immediately refer to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to obtain support and indication with regards to a place of safety. Moreover, they always immediately inform maritime or police authorities. It is  interesting to note that the Law decree, with reference to letter a) does not take into consideration the recent CJEU decision on the joined cases C-14/21 and C-15/21,[52] in which the Court stated that the disembarkation State cannot require different certifications from the ones of the flag State, nor more restrictive or different requirements than the ones provided for the International Conventions.

Based on the previous observations, it can be inferred that the most evident aim of the law decree is to prevent, or at least significantly limit, the possibility for humanitarian vessels to dock on Italian territory, and consequently to prevent Italy to be the competent Country for international protection applications according to Regulation 2013/604. In this sense appear to have been designed letters d) and f), establishing that NGOs’ vessels are required to reach without delay the place of safety and implement actions at sea that do not contribute to dangerous situations onboard. The clear consequence of this timely performance seems to imply the duty not to rescue other people than the ones already onboard and to forbid the trans-shipment from a humanitarian vessel to another. It is immediately clear the unlawfulness of this provision according to international customary law, the SOLAS Convention (art. 98) and to domestic law (art. 1113 – which introduces a specific type of offence for failure to render assistance in cases requested by Maritime Authorities – and 1158 – establishing sanctions for failure to assist ships or persons in distress – of the Navigation Code). In conclusion, the State must require the captain of the ship to provide for rescue assistance in case of shipwrecks or dangers for lives at sea. The most ambivalent requirement is the one referred to the obligation to provide information on international protection to people rescued while still on-board (let. b)). Such obligation cannot fall on the captain of a ship sailing under the flag of another State, as the relevant powers and duties are indicated by the national law of that State (Article 8 of the Code of Navigation R.D. 327/42); therefore, the Italian State cannot impose rules that go beyond the law of the flag State. Furthermore, in terms of access to the international protection procedure within a European Union member State, it has to be underlined that art. 4 of Directive 2013/32 established that each state shall appoint specific authorities responsible for examining applications for international protection, for dealing with cases subject to the Dublin Regulation or for refusing entry under border examination procedures. In the light of the above, Italy, according to Legislative decree 25/2008, appointed the Territorial Commissions for the evaluation of the applications (also for applications at the border), the Dublin Unit (at the Ministry of the Interior) for ascertaining the competence of the State according to the criteria of Regulation 604/2013 (Art. 3) and the border police or the police headquarters territorially competent for receiving applications (Art. 26). It clearly appears that the competence of Italian authorities is triggered only when the asylum seeker is on national territory, and would not apply to that of another State, as in the case of foreign-flagged vessels. In addition, one of the principles enshrined within the Hirsi Jamaa vs. Italy‘s decision was the necessity of an individual examination of the single cases by expert professionals, which cannot be the case of crew members of a humanitarian vessel. Taking the above into consideration, the attempt of the Italian government to introduce new principles and criteria in relation to the competence to examine international application appears to be conflicting with regards to domestic, European and international law.

The impact of Law 15/2023 started resulting evident already from the first months of 2023, especially concerning search and rescue activity performed by NGO vessels. On 23 February, the Geo Barents vessel operated by Doctor without Borders – after a rescue operation concluded on 17 February – received a custody administrative order ending after 20 days and a 10,000-euro fine for not having shared some information not strictly related to the rescue activity.[53] On 25 March 2023, the Louise Michel boat was seized after being accused of obstructing search and rescue operations. The boat had been ordered to reach the Trapani port after a first rescue operation, but decided to carry out three further rescue operations and was consequently accused by the Italian Coast Guard of “obstruction to search and rescue activities”.[54]

On 6 February 2023, the Civil Court of Catania ruled on an appeal promoted by Humanity 1,[55] concerning the standoff ordered in accordance with the Inter-ministerial Decree of 4 November 2022. The Court ruled on the unlawfulness of the decree, remarking that all people rescued from the ship Humanity 1 had the right to reach a place of safety ashore and to seek asylum in Italy. This decision concerns people who had been defined as “residual cargo” by the Italian government, and who, unlike minors and shipwrecked people in critical sanitary conditions, had not been disembarked immediately after the ship docked in the port of Catania.

Refoulement to Libya

On 2 February 2023, the Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and Libya was renewed for the second time after February 2020.[56] The agreement, originally signed by Italian Prime Minister Gentiloni and his Libyan counterpart Fayez El Serraj on 2 February 2017, aimed at strengthening cooperation on Libyan border management, “to ensure the reduction of illegal migration flows”. The agreement provides funding, equipment and technical support to the Libyan authorities, primarily the Libyan coastguard, for patrolling and rescuing boats in international waters. A naval blockade policy that, according to ASGI, should be balanced out by the implementation of evacuation programmes from Libya through the UNHCR-managed resettlement mechanism[57] and humanitarian corridors. Recent experience has showed the great efficiency of the blockade system that led to the creation of the Libyan coastguard and its respective apparatus for managing SAR interventions and the complete ineffectiveness of the evacuation mechanisms to which ‘voluntary’ return interventions coordinated by IOM and proposed to vulnerable individuals who are not in a position to make a free choice about returning to their countries of origin have instead bee included.[58] In fact, the internal migration management system has continued to be based on the systematic detention of foreigners, without any kind of administrative authorisation or judicial validation and protracted indefinitely under conditions of systematic torture and deprivation of fundamental rights (see chapter on Detention conditions).[59]

Evidences regarding the dramatic effects of this mechanism and policy has been reported by different institutions such, among others, IOM and UNHCR.[60] From a domestic perspective the Criminal Court of Trapani ruled that the agreement was in contrast with the Italian Constitution and international laws.[61] The Memorandum was heavily criticised by numerous associations including ASGI,[62] and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.[63]

On 9 of December 2022, the Special Representative for Libya of the UN Secretary General, issued a report[64] allegating that “many migrants and refugees continued to endure widespread human rights violations and faced serious humanitarian and protection concerns in Libya”. In the same report, the Special Representative mentioned that between January and 29 October 2022, a total of 19,308 individuals were intercepted and returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard, while 1,286 were reported dead or missing at sea. The dramatic conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya has been as well highlighted by Mohamed Aujjar, head of the Fact-Finding Mission on Libya of the Human Rights Council, who defined migrant detention centres as “places of terrible and systematic abuse, that may amount to crimes against humanity”.[65]

In February 2022, many associations subscribed an appeal to reject the Memorandum.[66] According to the agreement, as anticipated,[67] 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.

With regards to the financial support, for the two-year period 2020-2021, the Ministry of Interior had foreseen an additional 1.2 million euros in naval supplies.[68]

On July 2021, the Italian Parliament approved the re-financing and support to the Libyan coast guard.[69]

In the same days, Amnesty International reported the grave abuses connected with pushbacks and detention in Libya in 2021.[70]

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)[71] to provide to Libya technical assistance and training.[72] Nave Capri and Caprera also coordinated Libyan naval units in the tracking of boats at sea.[73]

As of December 2021, a new mobile “search and rescue” coordination centre (MRCC) was handed over to the Libyans. It was set up to be able to connect to the surface surveillance radar installed at the Abu Sitta naval base in Libyan territory (where Italian Navy assets are also moored). The small centre’s purpose is – on paper – to “monitor” the Libyan “search and rescue” (SAR) area that Italy itself contributed to be established in 2017-2018 and recognised before the International Maritime Organization.

The funds for the MRCC come from the “Support to integrated Border and Migration Management in Libya” (Sibmmil) project coordinated by the Italian Ministry of the Interior since 2017 and linked to the Trust Fund for Africa, set up by the European Commission at the end 2015, with the intended objective of “addressing the root causes of instability, forced displacement and irregular migration and to contribute to a better migration management”. The Sibmmil project is divided into two phases: the first has a budget of 46.3 million euros, the second of 15 million.[74]

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.[75]

From January 2020 to September 2020, at least 9,000 people were tracked down by the Libyan coastguard and brought back to Libya.[76] 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.[77]

Confirming what was previously mentioned regarding the number of people returned to Libya, Amnesty International recently reported that “in 2021, the Libyan coastguards, with the support of Italy and the European Union, captured 32,425 refugees and migrants at sea and brought them back to Libya: by far the highest number recorded so far, three times higher than the previous year. 1,553 people died or disappeared at sea in the central Mediterranean in 2021”.[78]

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. [79] 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.[80]

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.[81]

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.

In June 2021, IOM and UNHCR, confirmed that over 270 migrants and refugees were handed over to the Libyan Coast Guard by the ship “Vos Triton”. The two organisations made a joint declaration: “Vos Triton had rescued the group in international waters during their attempt to reach Europe on 14 June. On 15 June, the Libyan Coast Guard returned them to the main port of Tripoli, from where they were taken into detention by the Libyan authorities.

The two organizations reiterate that no one should be returned to Libya after being rescued at sea. Under international maritime law, rescued individuals should be disembarked at a place of safety.”[82]

On 14 October 2021, the criminal Court of Naples sentenced a commercial vessel captain, Asso28, to a one-year imprisonment, due to having returned migrants to Libya. On 30 July 2018, the vessel intercepted a rubber dinghy with 101 people on board and, having taken on board a Libyan customs officer, he let him carry out the rescue and return operations to Libya of the migrants. The captain was acquitted of the charge of “disembarkation and arbitrary abandonment of persons”, pursuant to art. 1155 of the navigation code, and of “abandonment of minors” pursuant to art. 591 of the penal code. For the first time, the return to Libya led to the condemnation of a private boat.[83] The conviction of the ship’s captain was confirmed by the Court of Appeal of Naples on 10 November 2022. The Court has confirmed the grounds of the first instance decision.[84]

Attempt to criminalise migrants’ refusal to be returned to Libya

As reported in 2020 AIDA report, in June 2020 the Criminal Appeal Court of Palermo overturned the decision of the Criminal Court of Trapani that had acquitted two migrants rescued at sea by Vos Thalassa ship in 2018 who had rebelled aboard the ship threatening the captain and the crew once they realized that it was bringing them back to Libya. The judge had recognized they acted in self-defence, and that the act of bringing them back to Libya would have been a crime.[85] 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.[86]

Through Decision n. 15869/2022,[87] adopted on 16 December 2021, and published on 26 April 2022, the Court of Cassation overturned the decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Palermo, reaffirming the principle that the migrants rescued at sea, asserting their right not to be refouled to Libya, were justified in resisting return procedures, as soon as their reaction to the risk of refoulement was proportionate and there were no prove of collusion with the traffickers.[88]

On 25 November 2022, the Criminal Court of Trieste acquitted a man accused of having provided false personal details to the authorities, to be registered as a minor. The Court recognized that the man was justified as he had acted in a state of necessity, to protect himself from the danger of serious harm that was the chain refoulement from Italy to Bosnia, which, in any case, he then suffered, being victim of inhuman treatment in Croatia, before being able to return to Italy and obtain refugee status.[89]

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, based on the bilateral agreement signed by the Italian and Greek government in 1999, which became operational in 2001, even if it was never ratified by the Italian Parliament.[90] In 2022, readmissions and refoulements were still recorded also to Albania.[91]

As provided in the readmission agreement with Slovenia, the readmission agreement with Greece excludes the informal transfer between the two countries of illegally staying third-country nationals only for those recognized as refugees by the state requesting readmission.[92]

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. On 18 January 2023, Lighthouse Reports, in collaboration with SRF, ARD Monitor, Al Jazeera, Domani and Solomon, published an online investigation on the illegal readmissions of asylum seekers to Greece that take place at the Adriatic seaports and the illegal detention to which third Country nationals undergo are subjected in unofficial places of detention on-board ships and ferries.[93] Despite the existence of a bilateral agreement between Italy and Greece, dated 1999, this procedure is adopted also to asylum seekers and minors.

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 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.[94]

On 7 February 2022, the Adriatic Ports Network sent a new communication to the Committee of Ministers of Europe,[95] requesting the continuation of the procedure to oversee the implementation of the Sharifi ruling, denouncing, contrary to the Government’s claim in the Action Report of 15 December 2021, the persistence of illegitimate practices. The Government declared, instead, to have taken all necessary measures to prevent the recurrence of the alleged violations and to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the ECtHR and called for the definitive closure of the procedure.[96] However, as the Network highlighted in its communication, the profiles of illegitimacy persist and the rejections and readmissions of foreign nationals traced onboard ships or in the immediate landing area of the main Italian Adriatic ports continue. Readmissions and rejections also occur many hours after apprehension, as intercepted foreign nationals are held in transit areas, where no individual assessment is carried out by border police nor legal assistance is provided, or inside the ferries themselves, where migrants are detained in a condition of total invisibility. The testimonies collected report incidents of mistreatment and behavior detrimental to personal dignity both during the tracing phase on board the ship or ashore, and during and at the end of readmission procedures, such as confiscation and destruction of personal belongings, forcing them to undress, and exposure to extreme temperatures. On 15 August 2021, an Afghan national and a Kurd from Iraq, despite their intention to seek asylum and the alert sent to the relevant authorities by the network, were readmitted to Greece; on 6 October 2021, a Kurdish citizen from Iraq was granted access to the territory and asylum claim, following the network’s intervention that interrupted the readmission procedure already in place. In January 2022, a family with a minor in need of health care was turned away from the port of Bari, despite presenting relevant documentation attesting said health needs. From April to November 2022, the Network received 21 calls from nationals of different countries (i.e. Iraq, Türkiye, Afghanistan), mostly from Bari and Brindisi, while 1 was from Ancona. Most of them were adult men, two were unaccompanied minors. All these cases had a positive outcome, as access to the territory was ensured after an individual intervention.

The network also received three reports of people already readmitted to Greece.

The support provided by the network changes a lot depending on the single case but generally the timing is quite tight and some legal assistance is provided.

Through a F.O.I.A request sent to public administrations by Altreconomia it has been made public that,[97]  from 1 January 2022 to 14 November 2022, 1,917 third Country nationals have received a return order from the Border Police Office at the Adriatic ports cities and that 81 people have been informally readmitted to Greece. Among these, 29 Afghan citizens, 15 Iraqi citizens and 11 Albanian citizens.


Arrivals by air

As reported to the Parliament on 25 November 2020 by the Central Director of the 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. [98]

Different cooperatives are entrusted by public tender or other temporary contracts to provide information services in the main airports, directly by the local Prefectures.

At the Fiumicino airport of Rome, the Prefecture of Rome entrusted the social cooperative Albatros1973 with informing and managing foreign people arriving at the air border who want to seek asylum or who are Dublin returnees in 2020. For 2021 and 2022, the service was in charge of ITC cooperative. As of 31 October 2022, 980 third country nationals were not granted access to the Italian territory at the airport borders, and only 105 asylum applications were lodged at air borders.[99]

At the airport of Milan 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, in charge of the service until December 2021. Pending a new public tender to entrust the service for the year 2022, through different extensions of the exchange, the Prefettura di Varese has granted them the service for the whole year. According to Inlimine ASGI project’s FOIA, as of 31 October, 2022, 909 third Country nationals have been pushed back from Malpensa airport, while only 128 people were able to seek asylum at the airport. Among people refouled, according to the same information, it is clear that persons coming from countries with critical security situations (such as Syria, Palestine, Democratic Republic of Congo or Pakistan) did not have access to the international protection procedure.[100]

In Venice, the cooperative Giuseppe Olivotti was responsible, up to January 2022, under the agreement with the Prefecture of Venice, of arrivals of asylum seekers and Dublin returnees.


Arrivals at the Slovenian land border

In 2022, 13,000 migrants coming from the border between the province of Trieste and Slovenia were traced by the Border Police of Trieste or spontaneously presented themselves to the authorities of the municipalities.[101] Such numbers highlight the increase in arrivals throughout the year, considering that in 2021, the Border Police of Trieste traced 5,181 migrants coming from the border between the province of Trieste and Slovenia,[102] and, as of October 2021, the total number of migrants traced at the Italian-Slovenian border was 8,600.[103] In 2020, 1,301 cases of re-admissions to Slovenia from Trieste Udine and Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, were registered, and were conducted without any formal procedure or decision being issued to the persons involved.[104] The readmissions were carried out based on the Readmission Agreement signed by Italian and Slovenian Government in 1996,[105] never ratified by the Italian Parliament, contrary to what Article 80 of Italian Constitution dictates for the ratification of international treaties that are of a political nature.[106]

On 18 January 2021, the Civil Court of Rome declared that the informal readmission procedures were contrary to the law, as they violated the right to access the asylum procedure and in contrast with the Dublin Regulation. The Court also considered that those procedures were contrary to the administrative internal law and to the right to receive a written document informing about the procedure and that the bilateral readmission agreement was never ratified by the Italian government. This decision was later reformed by the Civil Court of Rome which accepted the appeal submitted by the MoI considering not proved the involvement of the applicant in the procedure. However, the Court confirmed the illegitimacy of the readmission procedures that was at the base of the motivation of the first court.[107]

Following the Court of Rome decision of 18 January 2021, in 2021, only 6 people were readmitted to Slovenia.

However, starting from 31 July 2021, mixed patrols involving Italian and Slovenian police were resumed at the eastern Italian border for a total number of 10 monthly services, out of which 7 carried out in Slovenia (Koper and Nova Gorica) and 3 in Italy (Trieste and Gorizia).[108]

On several occasions, the Government outlined the imminent resumption of readmission procedures.[109] In January 2022, the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region announced that it had purchased, on request of the Prefecture of Trieste, 65 camera traps, to be allocated to the border police and to be placed on the Italian-Slovenian border to intercept arrivals and act as a “technological wall”.[110]

On March 2022, the Governor of the region Friuli Venezia Giulia publicly expressed his solidarity and his intentions to welcome Ukrainian citizens who come to the region from the border, but affirmed the need to block “other” arrivals coming from the Balkan route.[111]

During the summer and autumn of 2022, partly as a result of changed entry policies at the Bosnia Herzegovina-Croatia border and the political change of government in Slovenia, there has been a major increase in foreign national arrivals from the Balkan route. Although there is no official data on entries, press articles have pointed to increased interceptions of foreign nationals who are irregularly present.[112] The high number of new arrivals  is also confirmed by the systematic difficulties that the Prefecture of Trieste and Gorizia have faced in relation to granting reception measures for asylum seekers in the territory.[113] This situation has created obvious unease and led to a new intensification of police controls on the Slovenian side, starting from 2 September 2022.[114] After the change of government, more focus was put on enhancing border controls, and on 28 November, Interior Ministry Chief of Staff issued a directive calling on public administrations at the borders to intensify actions to curb arrivals.[115] NGOs, such as ASGI, ICS and the network Rivolti ai Balcani regard it as a de facto reinstatement of informal readmissions,[116] which were previously declared illegitimate by the Rome Civil Court decision. On 6 December, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior Emanuele Prisco, during a visit in Trieste, confirmed the political intention of the Government to re-start informal readmission at the border with Slovenia.[117]

According to recent information,[118] for the purpose of limiting arrivals from the Balkan Route, the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia purchased 65 photo traps mobile cameras to place in the border areas of Trieste and Gorizia province. This will constitute a sort of technological wall, meant to curb the number of irregular arrivals. From initial information collected by ASGI and Altreconomia the camera model GDPR WN-42CM branded Wilnex, cost 34,710 euro, and the tool should exclusively be aimed at locating people crossing the border irregularly.

In December 2022 informal readmissions re-started, but they did not involve asylum seekers. However, the Slovenian government refused many people that the Italian border police tried to send back. According to the information obtained by Altreconomia through a FOIA request, out of 190 readmission requests, only 23 were successful. The Slovenian Government did not dispute the validity of the agreement, but it claimed there was no evidence of the previous passage of those people from Slovenia.[119]


The situation at the French land borders

In 2022, the situation at Italian French internal border remains unchanged: since November 2015 and due to the reintroduction of border controls by France, many migrants attempting to cross the borders with France 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 on Italy, and in the AIDA Report on France.[120]

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,[121] providing for conjunct actions and cooperation between Italian and French police[122]  Police checks, which can be considered lawful in internal border areas only if conducted in a manner that police powers doesn’t have an equivalent effect to border checks[123], take indeed place only towards people of foreign appearance and systematically especially at Ventimiglia train station where migrants are prevented from getting on the train platform in order not to catch a train headed to France.[124]  This practice, started in 2020, is still widely implemented.

Regarding pushbacks, as reported by ASGI,[125] 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.

Italian media realised some interviews with migrants having been readmitted to Italy or blocked at the border, and with NGOS operators at Ventimiglia. The migrants involved declared having been intercepted and sent back by French police, after all the efforts to reach France. NGOs’ operators observed that about 60 people per day attempted to reach France, and only 10 would succeed, as all the others – including UAMs – were pushed back. Volunteers regret the closure of the red cross Ventimiglia Camp that constituted a support for all the people on the move.[126] Notwithstanding the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the cases C-368/20 and C-369/20[127] in relation to the unlawfulness of prolonging internal border checks without new reasons that justify the reintroduction of such controls, the French Government continued with the temporary reintroduction of border controls,[128] the last extension being notified on 1 of November 2022. In May 2022, Anafé and other French C.S.O’s, with the support of ASGI, submitted an appeal against the decision of the French government to prolong border checks at internal borders, but the French Council of State rejected the appeal on 27 July.[129]

Since 2020, 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 flow, local associations have aided about 250 people a day. On 31 July 2020, the Roja Camp, managed by the Italian Red Cross, was closed,[130] after a previous period of quarantine due to two positive cases of COVID-19, which prevented new entries. Being the only formal place of accommodation for people in transit, its closure led to the proliferation of informal settlements and the occupation of public spaces to face the arrival of winter. Facilities provided by the local Caritas office 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.[131]

In 2021, readmissions from France continued. According to a FOI request, taking into consideration the three-month period from February to April 2021, 8,958 pushbacks took place; 2,516 at the Bardonecchia-Briancon crossing point, and 6,442 at the Ventimiglia-Mentone crossing point.[132]

In 2021, based on data obtained by Altreconomia, there were a total of 24,589 readmissions from France, the majority of which involved nationals from Tunisia (3,815), followed by Sudan (1,822) and Afghanistan (1,769). The number increased compared to 2019 (16,808) and 2020 (21,654).[133]

As the practice of pushback from France to Italy was systematically implemented, humanitarian conditions registered in the Italian towns nearby remained dramatic. No public response was given since the closure of the Roya centre.[134] Hundreds of people remained stranded in town without access to the most basic rights such as shelter and health care. The humanitarian crisis was faced only by NGO’s, while local authorities seemed to criminalise the situation by introducing local rules against homeless people.[135]

At the end of 2021, it was announced the imminent opening of a centre for people in transit,[136] but, despite public statements following one another[137], still no public intervention has been done and migrants continue living stranded under bridges with the only support of civil society organisations and volunteers.[138]

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,[139] an organization granting medical assistance to migrants at Oulx, between September and December 2020 over 4,700 people attempted to cross the border.[140] MEDU registered an increase in arrivals in 2021 (around 1,000 per month), in particular since October, involving in most cases Afghans and Iranians.[141]

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 COVID-19 epidemic.

MEDU has recently reported the death of migrants that tried to cross the border walking through the Alps, underlining the increase in deaths of very young migrants or MSNA. Many NGO signed an appeal consequently the death of migrants at this border.[142] Concerning migrants’ deaths at the French border, 2022 has been a crucial year for the development of the investigation on the Blessing Matthews case. The case concerned a young Nigerian woman, who was found dead on the 9 of May 2018 at Prelles Dam, in the municipality of Saint-Martin-de-Queyrières, at ten kilometres from Briancon. On the night between 6 and 7 May 2018, Blessing Matthews crossed the Alps from Claviere – Italy but was discovered by some police agents who started chasing her nearby the village of La Vachette. In a desperate attempt not to be caught by police officers who had reached her at the edge of the river Durance, she fell into the water and drowned. With the support of the organisation Tous Migrant, Blessing’s sister filed different legal actions to ascertain the responsibilities of the public authority, but all actions were dismissed both by the Tribunal of Gap and the Court of Appeal of Grenoble.[143] Due to a counter investigation conducted by Border Forensic,[144] the case was submitted to the Public Prosecutor in May 2022, but again dismissed. On 25 October 2022, an appeal on the case was presented to the European Court of Human Rights.[145]

On 9 May 2021, Moussa Balde, a 22-year-old boy, was attacked in the streets of Ventimiglia by three Italian men. After being shortly hospitalized, Moussa was ordered to be confined at the CPR of Turin waiting to be deported. At the CPR he was placed in solitary confinement and was found dead on 23 May 2021.[146] On 10 January 2023, the Criminal Court of Imperia convicted three Italian citizens for the aggression, specifically for aggravated injury due to the use of a blunt object.[147] Regarding the responsibilities for the suicide of the young migrant, a criminal proceeding is still pending to ascertain whether it was caused by the lack of medical and psychological care provided to the victim and to his isolation. Indeed, after the confinement, competent authorities denied that Moussa Balde had been present in the CPR, preventing any kind of legal assistance and support. Moreover, despite the brutal aggression suffered in Ventimiglia, the managing authority of the centre decided to put him in isolation, in a separate building called “Ospitaletto” within the detention centre without any kind of human support even if in a critical psychological and physical condition.

The criminal proceeding against the NGO Baobab, accused of aiding illegal immigration for helping 9 asylum seekers to buy train tickets to reach Ventimiglia after the eviction of an informal reception centre in Rome in 2016,[148] was considered unfounded by the Criminal Court of Rome (Judge for the preliminary hearing, GUP) who acquitted the NGO on May 2022.[149]




[1] Cfr Ministery of Interior, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero available at:  

[2] Ansa, Migranti: prefetto Trieste, si intensificano arrivi in Fvg, 28 February 2023, available at:

[3] Cfr Ministery of Interior, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero availbale at:

[4] Eurostat data, available at:

[5] Cfr Ministery of Interior, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero availbale at:

[6] UNHCR, Operational Data Portal – Mediterranean situation, available at:

[7] Watch the Med – Alarm Phone, “Rising arrivals, continuous struggles”, August 15, 2022, available at

[8] See: Infomigrants, “IOM: Migrants repatriated to Libya decreased by 24% in 2022”, 5 January 2023, available at

[9] See: Altreconomia, Nuovi affari dell’Italia sulla frontiera per respingere le persone in Libia, 1 February 2022, available in Italian at: and The New Humanitarian, Interactive: the European approach to stopping libya migration, June 16, 2022, available at:

[10] See: Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya of the HumanRights Council, 27 June 2022 available at:

[11] Vita, Navi Umanitarie: oltre 14 mila migranti salvati nel 2022, December 27, 2022, available in italian at:

[12] Chamber of Deputies, Emergenza COVID-19: le misure in materia di immigrazione, 11 March 2021, available at:

[13] Senate studies service, “Da Sophia A Irini: La Missione Militare Ue nel Mediterraneo cambia nome, e Priorità, April 2020, available at:

[14] Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Report: “A distress call for human rights”, March 2021, available at:

[15] UNHCR, Operational Data Portal, available at:

[16] UNHCR, Operational Data Portal, available at:

[17] See ASGI, Sciabaca Oruka, Strengthening the operational capacities of Tunisian authorities in monitoring the maritime borders: 8 million from the Rewarding Fund for Repatriation Policies, 13 April 2021, available at:

[18] See ASGI, Sempre più politiche securitarie: lo studio sui rimpatri in Tunisia, 30 march 2022, available at:

[19] ASGI Sciabaca Oruka, “Strengthening the operational capacities of Tunisian authorities in monitoring the maritime borders: 8 million from the Rewarding Fund for Repatriation Policies”, 13 April 2021 available at:

[20] See Irpi Media, “Tunisia, il muro della Guardia costiera”, available in italian at:

[21] Al Jazeera, “Mediterranean shipwreck: Stories of tragedy emerge after 62 drown”, February 27 2023, available at and LaStampa, “Naufragio di Cutro, la ricostruzione ora per ora di quello che è accaduto la notte del 26 febbraio, March 17 2023, available at:

[22] LaStampa, “Cutro due mesi dopo: inchieste congelate e sette cadaveri ancora senza nome”, 5 May 2023, available at:

[23] 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:

[24] See Watch the Med – Alarm Phone, “Cutro shipwreck: Associations file a collective complaint with the Office of the Public Prosecutor”, 10 March 2023, available at: and ASGI, “Naufragio Cutro: Associazioni depositano esposto collettivo in Procura”, 9 March 2023, available in Italian at:

[25] ASGI, “Naufragio di Cutro, ASGI: ritardi nell’attivazione dell’accoglienza per i superstiti”, March 11 2023, available in Italian at

[26] 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.

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

[28] 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.

[29] 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.

[30] Corriere della Sera, Migranti, Lamorgese ha bloccato più navi Ong di Salvini, 14 March 2021, available at:

[31] Administrative Court of Sicily, decision no. 2974 of 23 December 2020, available at:

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

[33] Consiglio per la giustizia Ammnistrativa della Regione Siciliana is the appeal body exercising, only for Sicily, the same functions as the Council of State.

[34] Consiglio per la giustizia Ammnistrativa della Regione Siciliana, Ordinanza 00322/2021, 8 May 2021, available at:

[35] Altreconomia, Sbarchi, i numeri non tornano. E per il Viminale i naufraghi diventano “persone scortate”, 25 March 2022, available at:

[36] By the end of July 2019, the thenMinister 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).

[37] Adnkronos, Gregoretti, nuova udienza per Salvini a Catania, 5 March 2021, available at:

[38] Ansa, Gregoretti: Gup, non luogo a procedere per Salvini. Prosciolto perché “il fatto non sussiste”, 15 May 2021, available at:

[39] 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:; Androkonos, Open Arms, rinviata al 4 marzo udienza processo a Salvini, 21 January 2022, available in Italian at:

[40] Ansa, Naufragio bambini, due ufficiali a giudizio, 16 September 2019, available in Italian at:; see also: Alarmphone, Left-to-Die Trial in Rome, 2 December 2019, available at:; ECRE, Italy: Officials of the Italian Coast Guard Prosecuted for Shipwreck in 2013, 20 September 2019, available at:

[41] Nuovi Desaparecidos, “Strage di Lampedusa prime condanne ma non basta, occorre indagare sui soccorsi”, 10 December 2020, available at:

[42] Fanpage, Inchiesta su Mare Jonio, accusata di aver ricevuto soldi in cambio di un trasbordo di migranti, 1 March 2021, available at:

[43] Il Fatto quotidiano, Migranti, archiviata dal gip l’indagine sulla Mare Jonio che salvò 30 migranti, 28 January 2022, available at:

[44] ASGI, “Strage di bambini dell’11 ottobre 2013: le responsabilità e la cronaca della tragedia nella sentenza sul naufragio”, available in italian at:

[45] OHCHR, “Italy failed to rescue more than 200 migrants, UN Committee finds”, available at:

[46] Ministero dell’Interno, “Direttiva Piantedosi su due navi Ong in navigazione nel Mediterraneo”, October 25 2023, available in Italian at: and Infomigrants, “New Italian interior minister says ‘governing migration’ priority”, 25 October 2022, available at:

[47] Guardian, “Giorgia Meloni faces first migration test from two NGO rescue boats”, 26 October 2022, available at:

[48] European Parliament Briefing, “Search and rescue efforts for Mediterranean migrants”, October 24 2022, available at:

[49] Infomigrants, “EU Parliament chief: Don’t forget solidarity toward migrants”, 1 November 2022, available at

[50] AlJazeera, “Rescue charity to take Italy to court over migrant boats standoff”, 7 November 2022, available at

[51] For a legal analysis of the law, see ASGI, “Una prima lettura di ASGI del Decreto Legge 1/2023 convertito in Legge”, available in Italian at:

[52] See EUR-Lex Access to European Union Law, Document 62021CJ0014 – Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 1 August 2022. Sea Watch eV v Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti and Others”, available at

[53] Corriere della Sera, “Migranti, Medici senza Frontiere: fermo di 20 giorni e multa da 10mila euro alla nave Geo Barents”, 23 February 2023, available in Italian at:

[54], “Ong Louise Michel, perché è stata sequestrata – “Ha disobbedito alla Guardia Costiera”, 29 March 2023, available in Italian at:

[55] ASGI, “Sbarco e domanda di asilo devono essere garantiti senza distinzioni. Commento all’ordinanza su SOS Humanity”, available in Italian at:

[56] “Memorandum d’intesa sulla cooperazione nel campo dello sviluppo, del contrasto all’immigrazione illegale, al traffico di esseri umani, al contrabbando e sul rafforzamento della sicurezza delle frontiere tra lo Stato della Libia e la Repubblica Italiana”, available on ASGI website at:

[57] ASGI Sciabaca Oruka, “The Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) programme from Libya to Niger: an update as of December 2021”, available at:

[58] ASGI Sciabaca Oruka, “Voluntary returns from Libya in the EU externalisation strategy: a critical analysis in the light of ASGI’s strategic litigation”, 2 February 2021, available at:

[59] OHCHR, “Report of the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Libya”, 27 March 2023, available at

[60] IOM and UNHCR Press Release, “IOM and UNHCR condemn the return of migrants and refugees to Libya”, 16 June 2021, available at:

[61] Criminal Court of Trapani, sentence of 23 May 2019, available in Italian at:; 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.

[62] ASGI; Memorandum Italia-Libia, lettera aperta del Tavolo Asilo alle istituzioni italiane: non rinnovatelo, 30 October 2019, available in Italian at:

[63] 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:

[64] UNMSIL, “Report of the Secretary General”, 9 december 2022, available at:

[65] UN News “Libya detention centres remain places of violations and abuse”, 28 March 2022, available at:

[66] Available in English at:; see also:

[67] A copy of the agreement is published in Italian at: 

[68] 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:

[69] Internazionale, A. Camilli, ‘Aumentano i fondi italiani per la guardia costiera libica’, 15 July 2021, available at:; see also Wired, ‘L’Italia continuerà a finanziare la cosiddetta guardia costiera libica’, 16 July 2021, available at:

[70] Amnesty International, Libya: ‘No one will look for you’: Forcibly returned from sea to abusive detention in Libya, 15 July 2021, available at:

[71] Analisi difesa, nave Caprera ha sostituito la Capri nel porto di Tripoli, 4 April 2018, available in Italian at:

[72] ASGI, ASGI chiede l’immediato annullamento del Memorandum con la Libia, 2 February 2020, available in Italian at:

[73] Altreconomia, Il grande inganno della Libia sicura e le tappe della regia italiana dei respingimenti delegati, 18 April 2019, available in Italian at:

[74] Altreconomia, Nuovi affari dell’Italia sulla frontiera per respingere le persone in Libia, 1 February 2022, available in Italian at:

[75] ECtHR, Application No. 21660/18, S.S. and others v. Italy, available at:; the Third-party intervention by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights is available at:

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

[77] Form elaborated by IOM for the Ministry of Labour’s Monitoring report on unaccompanied minors, December 2020; see also the following report:, 26.

[78] Amnesty International, Cinque anni dal memorandum Italia-Libia: condizioni infernali per migranti e richiedenti asilo, 31 January 2022, available at:

[79] Communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in the case of SDG against Italy, available at:

[80] 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:

[81] Forensic Oceanography Nivin report, affiliated to the Forensic Architecture agency, Goldsmiths, University of London, December 2019, available at:

[82] Available at: See also: Analysis of ECRE available at: ECRE, Med: UN Condemnation of Returns to Unsafe Libya by Merchant Ship, Survivors Rescued in Maltese SAR Zone Accepted by Italy, Parliament President Urges EU Lead on Rescues at Sea, 18 June 2021, available at:

[83] ASGI, Condanna di Asso 28, un precedente che può scardinare la prassi dei respingimenti in Libia, 19 october 2021, available in Italian at: See also Infomigrants, Ship captain sentenced to prison for returning migrants to Libya, 15 October 2021, available at:

[84] ASGI, Asso 28, la corte di appello di Napoli conferma: il respingimento verso la Libia è illegittimo, 18 january 2023, available in italian at:

[85] 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:; see also: EDAL, Italy – Tribunal of Trapani – Office of the Judge for Preliminary Investigations (Piero Grillo), available at:

[86] Criminal Court of Appeal of Palermo, Decision no. 1525/2020, of 3 June 2020, available at:

[87] Decision available in Italian at:

[88] Espresso, “I migranti hanno il diritto di opporsi alla riconsegna in Libia»: storica sentenza della Cassazione”, 17 December 2021, available in Italian at:

[89] Criminal Court of Trieste, decision of 25 November 2022. See Altreconomia, “Fingersi minore per sfuggire ai respingimenti italiani a catena fino in Bosnia non è reato” available at

[90] Available in Italian and Greek at

[91] According to Altreconomia FOIA, from January 2022 to 14 November, 1827 Third Country Nationals have been refouled from Bari, Brindisi, Ancona, Trieste to Albania. See Altreconomia, “L’ossessione di respingere anche ai confini interni. Via terra e per mare” February 2023, available in Italian at:

[92] Readmission agreement between Italy and Greece, Article 6.

[93] Lighthouse Reports, “Detained below deck”, 18 January 2023, available at:

[94] See: Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Communication from an 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:; ASGI, Respingimenti: l’Italia ancora sotto indagine per il caso Sharifi, 8 April 2020, available in Italian at:

[95] Available at:

[96] Available at:

[97] Altreconomia, “L’ossessione di respingere anche ai confini interni. Via terra e per mare”, 1 February 2023, available in Italian at:

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

[99] ASGI InLimine, La frontiera di Fiumicino: i riscontri della pubblica amministrazione, 10 November 2022, available in Italian at:

[100] ASGI InLimine, “La frontiera di Malpensa: alcuni riscontri dalla pubblica amministrazione”, available in Italian at:

[101] Ansa, “Migranti, il Prefetto di Trieste: si intensificano arrivi in FVG”, 28 February 2023, available in Italian at

[102] Triesteprima, “Arresti, denunce, Covid e molto altro: il 2021 della questura in numeri”, 8 January 2022, available at:

[103] Il, Clandestini dai Balcani, il Friuli Venezia Giulia compra 65 fototrappole: «Un muro tecnologico», 21 January 2022, available at:

[104] See The New Humanitarian, “Europe’s chain of migrant expulsion, from Italy to Bosnia”, available at:, 17 November 2020.

[105] Readmission agreement between the Italian and Slovenian Government, available at:

[106] Italian Consititution, Article 80 states: “Le Camere autorizzano con legge la ratifica dei trattati internazionali che sono di natura politica, o prevedono arbitrati o regolamenti giudiziari, o importano variazioni del territorio od oneri alle finanze o modificazioni di leggi.”

[107] Civil Court of Rome, decision of 3 May 2021, available at:

[108] Written response provided to the question made by the member of the Italian Parliament Riccardo Magi, signed by the undersecretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Nicola Molteni, on 13 October 2021, attached to the bulletin of Constitutional Affairs n. 5-06810.

[109] Rai news, «“Stop ai cortei, sì alle riammissioni informali”, dice il prefetto Vardè», 9 November 2021, available at:

[110] Il, ‘Clandestini dai Balcani, il Friuli Venezia Giulia compra 65 fototrappole: “Un muro tecnologico”’, 21 January 2022, available at:

[111] La Repubblica, ”Lega, Fedriga avverte: fermare gli altri migranti”, 29 March 2022, available at:

[112] See Radio Capodistria “In aumento i flussi di migranti fra Italia e Slovenia”, August 22 2022 available in Italian at:  

[113] Rainews, “Le strutture per l’accoglienza dei migranti a Trieste sono al collasso, available in Italian at, Ansa, “Migranti: Ics a Governo, non si violi accoglienza a Trieste”, October 23 2022, available in italian at:

[114], “Migranti, ripartono le pattuglie miste al confine”, September 6 2022, available in Italian at:

[115] Il fatto quotidiano, “Migranti, il governo riattiva i respingimenti sul confine Sloveno. Erano stati dichiarati illegittimi dal tribunale di Roma nel 2021”, 12 December 2022, available in Italian at:

[116] MeltingPot Europa, “Trieste, nuova direttiva Piantedosi: ripartono le riammissioni illegali in Slovenia”, 9 December 2022, available in Italian at: and Altreconomia, “Sulla sconcertante ripresa delle “riammissioni informali” al confine italo-sloveno”, 12 December 2022, available in Italian at:  

[117] RAI – TGR Friuli Venezia Giulia, “Il Governo ha deciso: tornano i respingimenti di migranti in Slovenia”, 6 December 2022, available in Italian at:

[118] Il Gazzettino, “Clandestini dai Balcani, il Friuli Venezia Giulia compra 65 fototrappole: «Un muro tecnologico»”, 21 January 2022, available in Italian at:

[119] Altreconomia, Respingimenti alla frontiera con la Slovenia, i dati che smontano gli annunci del governo, 9 May 2023, available at:

[120] AIDA, Country Report Italy, 2017 Update, March 2018, available at:, 22-24.

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

[122] The text of the Agreement is available at:

[123] Article 23 of the Regulation 399/2016 (Schengen border Code).

[124] Regarding ethnic profiling procedure carried out at Ventimiglia train station, see Anna Dotti and Serena Chiodo, The brutal side of Riviera available at:

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

[126] La7, “Ventimiglia, continuano i respingimenti francesi”, 26 June 2021, available in Italian at:

[127] ASGI, “EU Court of Justice – It is illegitimate to renew internal border controls on the basis of reasons already given”, available in Italian at:

[128] European Commission. 2022. Temporary Reintroduction of Border Control. Available at:

[129] ASGI, “The French Council of State ignores the principles on free Schengen circulation reaffirmed by the European Court of Justice”, available in Italian at:

[130] Parole sul confine, “Il Campo Roja di Ventimiglia ha definitivamente chiuso”, 24 August 2020, available at:

[131] Ansa, Due immigrati travolti da un treno nel savonese, 23 Dicember 2020, available at:

[132] ASGI FOI request, June 2021, available at:

[133] Altreconomia, “Al confine di Ventimiglia, dove i controlli rendono i passeur l’ultima speranza dei migranti”, 2 February 2022, available in Italian at:

[134] See ASGI, Medea project, Ventimiglia, un territorio che resiste? October 2021, available at:

[135] Sanremo news, Ventimiglia: firmate stamattina dal Sindaco e subito operative le ordinanze anti degrado e alcol, 21 October 2021, available in Italian at:

[136] Stranieri in Italia, Il progetto. A Ventimiglia un centro di transito per accogliere i migranti, 26 November 2021, available at:

[137], Migranti a Ventimiglia, centro di transito: spunta di nuovo l’ipotesi Parco Roja, 4 April 2022, available in italian at:,  and Ansa, “Migranti: a Ventimiglia sit-in bipartisan per riaprire centro”, 16 November 2022, available in italian at:

[138] Il Fatto Quotidiano, “Nel limbo di Ventimiglia tra i migranti respinti dalla Francia e accampati al confine. Associazione: “Serve centro di transito”, 25 December 2022, available in italian at:

[139] MEDU, Ancora critica la situazione dei migranti sulla rotta nord ovest delle Alpi, 4 February 2021, available at:

[140] Medici per i diritti umani, Frontiera solidale, available in Italian at:

[141] Altreconomia, “Rotta alpina: il presidio medico di Medu in Val di Susa per assistere i migranti”, 1 December 2021, available in Italian at:

[142] Medici per i diritti umani, “Si ritorna a morire alla frontiera nord ovest delle Alpi”, 4 February 2022, available in Italian at: See also ASGI,Medea project, Confine italo-francese: una frontiera dove si continua a morire. Appello alle autorità, 11 February 2022,  available at:

[143] Altreconomia, “Le nuove prove sulla morte di Blessing Matthew al confine italo-francese”, 1 giugno 2022, available in Italian at:

[144] Border Forensic, “The death of Blessing Matthews – a counter investigation on violence at the alpine frontier”, available at:

[145] Border Forensic, “25.10.2022 – Death of Blessing Matthew: Facing impunity in France, we file an application before the European Court of Human Rights”, available at:

[146] See Black book on Pre-Removal Detention Centre (CPR): when EU denies the human, 23 September 2021, available at:

[147] Il Fatto Quotidiano, “Moussa Balde, condannati a due anni gli autori del pestaggio. La famiglia del migrante: “Ora verità sulla sua morte in isolamento nel Cpr”, 10 January 2023 available in italian at:

[148] Roma today, Baobab, il presidente rischia fino a 18 anni per favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, 19 April 2022, availabe at:

[149] Ansa, Migranti: assolto il presidente di Baobab, 3 May 2022, available at:  

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