Italy: Large-scale expansion of detention centres for tougher migration control

News by the European Council of Refugees and Exiles
13 January, 2017

Following Italy’s change of government, a Circular outlining a stricter policy on migration control by the Head of the Italian Police was distributed to police authorities across Italy. One of the measures was large-scale use of detention to control irregular migration and promote returns to third countries.

The Circular echoes the latest position of the Ministry of Interior, which has committed to an expansion of detention centres (CIE) with reference to a target of one CIE in every Italian region. At the end of 2015, 7 CIE were operational across the country according to the Roadmap on Relocation.

ASGI has sharply criticised the proposal for yet again encouraging the reopening of detention centres despite the widely acknowledged failure of such policies in the past. High costs, degrading conditions and limited impact on returns have been highlighted by various political bodies, including the Senate, and have led previous governments to dramatically reduce the number of CIE in the country. On the other hand, the “hotspot” approach has reinvigorated systematic resort to detention, leading to critical violations of human rights against refugees and migrants entering Italy.

Italy was the main country of first arrival in the EU last year, reporting a total 181,436 arrivals by sea.”

European countries and the EU do not want to understand that short term electoral gains will have long-term consequences. Repressing irregular migration through interdiction and detention instead of facilitating mobility through offering visa opportunities will increase human rights violations (the detention of children and families is particularly egregious), entrench smuggling operations  and consolidate underground labour markets (we are subsidising lawlessness!), endanger more lives, lead to more labour exploitation of migrants, etc. As such measures will not succeed at eliminating undocumented migration (even if they reduce it somewhat for a time on specific routes), the trust of the electorate will continue to diminish and the appeal of extremist views and solutions will grow.

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