Place of detention


Country Report: Place of detention Last updated: 03/06/21


Pre-removal detention centres (CPR)

Under the Reception Decree, asylum seekers can be detained in CPR where third-country nationals who have received an expulsion order are generally held.[1]

According to the Ministry of Interior, seven pre-removal centres of the existing 9 are currently operational, following the re-purposing of the hotspot of Trapani into a CPR. The CPR of Potenza was urgently opened by the end of January 2018 and made operational shortly thereafter. The pre-removal centre of Caltanissetta was closed in the first few months of 2018 due to the damages caused by an internal uprising, and reopened in December 2018, with a capacity of 96 persons.

The latest data available on capacity of CPR and persons detained therein are as follows, updated at November 2020[2]:

Capacity and detentions by CPR
CPR Official capacity[3] Persons detained in 2020
Brindisi 48 Not available
Bari 126 Not available
Caltanissetta 96 Not available
Rome 250 Not available
Turin 210 Not available
Potenza 150 Not available
Trapani 205 Not available
Gradisca d’Isonzo (Gorizia) 150 Not available
Macomer (Nuoro) 50 Not available
Milan Not available
Total 1,285 Not available

 Source: Guarantor of detained persons, October 2020

As of 22 October 2020, Rome, Turin, Gradisca d’Isonzo (GO) and Macomer (NU) were hosting the majority of detained persons with respectively 102; 73; 58 and 45 migrants. The rest were distributed in the CPRs of Bari (32) and Brindisi (27) and in the reopened centre of Milan (8)

The CPR of Macomer has a current capacity of 50 places but it is being expanded to 100. The management of the CPR is entrusted to the company Ors Italia.

In 2020 these CPR started their activity:

  • Gradisca d’Isonzo, Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia: previously used as a Centre for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) opened on 16 December 2019.[4] By the end of December it was hosting around 88 people[5] but its capacity is for 150 people.
  • Macomer, Cagliari, Sardinia: the CPR has been set up in a former prison and it started its activity on 20 January 2020. The contract was awarded to the ORS Italia Company belonging to the Swiss ORS Company. [6]
  • Milan, Lombardy: 140 places are provided in a building on Via Corelli, already previously used as CIE.[7] The opening, initially scheduled for early March 2020, actually took place on 28 September 2020 and it was immediately followed by protests of NGOs active against the administrative detention. [8] The centre, managed by Versoprobo Scs of Vercelli and Luna Scs of Vasto (Chieti) is a reason for protests by NGOs, including ASGI due to the hygienic conditions, the scarce anti-covid measures and the foreclosure of the communication rights and right of defence of detained people including asylum seekers.

With decision no. 2020 of 30 November 2020, the Civil Court of Appeal of Bari confirmed the decision of the Civil Court of Bari[9] and sentenced the Ministry of the Interior to pay a sum by way of compensation for damage, resulting from the inhuman and degrading treatment for foreign citizens detained in the CPR of Bari.[10]

Decree Law 13/2017, implemented by L 46/2017, had foreseen the extension of the network of the CPR to ensure the distribution across the entire national territory.[11] In order to speed up the implementation of CPR, Decree Law 113/2018 encouraged the use of negotiated procedures, without tender, for works whose amounts are below the EU threshold relevance and for a maximum period of three years.[12]


As described in the Hotspots section, there are four operating hotspots, where 21 persons were present as of 31 December 2020.[13] In September 2018, the hotspot of Trapani was converted into a CPR.

Hotspot Capacity
Lampedusa 96
Pozzallo 234
Taranto 400
Messina 160
Total 890

As reported by ASGI after a monitoring project in October 2020, the Monastir center (not officially included in the hotspots list), works with a hotspot approach. People entering Sardinia from the costs are taken there for health care, identification purposes and security checks.[14]

The Reception Decree does not provide a legal framework for the operations carried out in the First Aid and Reception Centre (CPSA) now converted into hotspots. Both in the past and recently in the CPSA, in the absence of a legislative framework and in the name of unspecified identification needs, asylum seekers have been unlawfully deprived of their liberty and held for weeks in conditions detrimental to their personal dignity. The legal vacuum, the lack of places in the reception system and the bureaucratic chaos have legitimised in these places detention of asylum seekers without adopting any formal decision or judicial validation.

In the case of Khlaifia v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has strongly condemned Italy for the detention of some Tunisians in Lampedusa CPSA in 2011, noting the breach, to them, of various rights protected by ECHR. In particular, the Court found that the detention was unlawful, and that the conditions in which the Tunisians were accommodated – in a situation of overcrowding, poor hygienic conditions, prohibition of contacts with the outside world and continuous surveillance by law enforcement, lack of information on their legal status and the duration and the reasons for detention – constituted a violation of Article 3 ECHR, the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, and of Article 5 ECHR, in addition to the violation of Article 13 ECHR due to the lack of an effective remedy against these violation.[15] The Grand Chamber judgment of 15 December 2016 confirmed the violation of such fundamental rights.[16]

Although the new Article 6(3-bis) of the Reception Decree foresees the possibility of detention for identification purposes in specific places, such places are not specified and they will not be identified by law. In a Circular issued on 27 December 2018, the Ministry of Interior specified that it will be the responsibility of the Prefects in whose territories such structures are found to identify special facilities where this form of detention could be performed. At the time of writing, such facilities have not yet been identified (see Duration of detention for identification purposes par. 4.1.)

According to ASGI, detention in facilities other than CPR and prisons violates Article 10 of the recast Reception Conditions Directive, which does not allow any detention in other locations and also because in these places, the guarantees provided by this provision are not in place. According to ASGI, the amended Reception Decree also violates Article 13 of the Italian Constitution, since the law does not indicate the exceptional circumstances and the conditions of necessity and urgency allowing, according to constitutional law, for the implementation of detention. Moreover, the law makes only a generic reference to places of detention, which will be not identified by law but by the prefectures, thus violating the “riserva di legge” laid down in the Article 13 of the Constitution, according to which the modalities of personal freedom restrictions can be laid down only in legislation and not in other instruments such as circulars.[17]

Transit zones

During visits carried out in early 2019 at the Rome Fiumicino and Milano Malpensa airports, the national Guarantor for detained persons found that, in 2018, 260 people, in the case of Rome and, 333 people, in the case of Milano, were held at the border crossing for over 3 days immediately after their arrival in Italy, as they were considered not entitled to enter the national territory. Some of them were held in these areas for 8 days.[18]

In both areas, as evidenced by the Guarantor, access to lawyers is effectively prevented.

Responding, on 10 October 2019, to an open letter from ASGI, the Ministry of Interior, Central Directorate for Immigration, has made it known that the staying even for several days in the transit area is not supposed to be considered as detention and therefore to have the defence rights guarantees related to detention because it is implemented as part of the immediate refoulement procedure that does not provide for jurisdictional validation.[19]

However, the Guarantor for detained persons concluded in his report that a de facto detention contrary to Articles 13 of the Italian Constitution and to Article 5 of the ECHR[20] was configurable in the situation where people were unable to enter Italy since they were notified an immediate refoulement measure and were obliged, at the disposal of the border police, to stay in special rooms in the transit area of the airports. This period of time varied according to the availability of flight connections with the place of origin.

Article 13 (5 bis) TUI, as amended by DL 113/2018,[21]introduced the possibility of detaining people, to be expelled after being in Italy, in suitable premises at the concerned border office.

Responding to ASGI requests, the air border police offices of Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa communicated in early 2020 that still no premises have been identified within the transit areas of the two airports for the detention of those who have to be expelled and that therefore no detention measures had been carried out in these areas.[22]

However, the authorities attached to the answer related to Rome Fiumicino the project for the identification of the detention places.




[1]  Article 6(2) Reception Decree.

[2]   MOI; hearing at Parliament of Director Bontempi, 25 November 2020

[3]  Guarantor for the rights of detained persons, Report to Parliament March 2020, Tab 2.22, p. 205. However, as mentioned, the official capacity is.different due to Covid health measures and it corresponds to 485 places, according to MOI, and to 548 places according to the Guarantor of detained persons as of October 2020 (Viewpoint of 28 October 2020)

[4]   See Ansa Migranti: apre Cpr a Gradisca. Prefetto, fino a 150 posti. Circa 200 telecamere di sorveglianza, aggregati 50 militari’, 16 December 2019, available in Italian at:

[5]   Guarantor for detained persons, Viewpoint of 18 December 2020, available at :

[6] La Nuova Sardegna, Macomer, il nuovo CPR affidato alla società svizzera ORS, 16 December 2019, available in Italian at:

[7]  Linkiesta, ‘Migranti, ora il business si chiama detenzione e rimpatrio (e a fare i soldi sono i francesi)’, 14 February 2019, available in Italian at:

[8]  Meltingpot, Apre in sordina il CPR di Milano, parte la mobilitazione permanente per la chiusura di questa struttura, 5 October 2020 available at:

[9]  Civil Court of Bari, Decision no. 4089 of 10 August 2017

[10]   Civil Court of Appeal of Bari, decision no. 2020 of 30 November 2020, available at:; The court observes that the problems of public order and safety deriving from the presence of such a poorly managed Center cannot be underestimated, if only one considers the numerous protests of the persons there detained. Therefore according to the Court, a citizen elector may not feel indifferent to the fact that in his/her city it is located a Center where the dignity of the people hosted is held in such low regard, and where continuous riots and protests occur, as result of powerlessness to act much more of actual and pre-existing aggression.

[11]  Article 19(3) Decree Law 13/2017 implemented by L 46/2017.

[12]  Article 2(2) Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018.

[13]  MOI, Cruscotto statistico giornaliero, available at :

[14] ASGI report, Report sopralluogo giuridico: la Sardegna come luogo di frontiera e di transito, 1 December 2020, available at:

[15]  ECtHR, Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, Application No 16483/12, Judgment of 1 September 2015.

[16] ECtHR, Khlaifia and Others v. Italy, Grand Chamber, Judgment of 15 December 2016.

[17] ASGI, Manifeste illegittimita’ costituzionali delle nuove norme concernenti permessi di soggiorno per esigenze umanitarie, protezione internazionale, immigrazione e cittadinanza previste dal decreto-legge 4 ottobre 2018, n. 113, 15 October 2018, available in Italian at:

[18]  Guarantor for detained persons report, available in Italian at:

[19]  Letter from Ministry of Interior, 8 October 2019, available in Italian at:

[20]  Guarantor report, page 7. See also, Questione Giustizia, Zone di transito internazionali degli aeroporti, zon grigie del diritto, 9 December 2019, available in Italian at:

[21] Article 13(5bis) as amended by Article 4 (1) DL 113/2018 converted by L. 132/2018 introduced the possibility of detaining the people to be expelled, pending the validation procedure and in the event of no availability of places at the CPRs, in structures in the availability of the Public Security Authority. Detention is ordered by the Magistrate (Giudice di Pace) at the request of the Questore with the decree which sets the hearing to validate the expulsion. After this hearing, the Magistrate, at the request of the Questore, may authorize further detention, for a maximum of 48 hours, in suitable premises at the border office concerned.

[22]  Article 13 (5 bis) TUI.

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