Access to Asylum: The country’s laws provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. Between August 2011 and July 2012, 33,656 persons submitted asylum requests to authorities. During the same period authorities granted approximately 2,200 persons asylum and an additional 8,800 received other forms of protection. The flows of migrants arriving by boat from northern Africa, Greece, and Turkey decreased. The Ministry of Interior reported 17,365 arrivals between August 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012.
NGOs reported on the shortcomings in asylum procedures, including inconsistency of standards in reception centers, remoteness from the community, and difficulties in accessing information.
On February 23, the ECHR issued a judgment against the government for the collective expulsion of North African migrants.
Safe Country of Origin/Transit: The country is party to the EU’s Dublin II Regulation, whose parties generally transfer asylum applications to the first EU-member country in which the applicant arrived.
Between April 2011 and April 2012, the government repatriated 22,643 migrants, primarily to Tunisia. According to NGOs and independent experts, Egyptians and Tunisians who illegally entered the country were repatriated in 24 to 48 hours, based on formal and informal agreements with the Egyptian and Tunisian governments. In some cases Egyptian or Tunisian consular authorities allegedly labeled migrants as either Egyptian or Tunisian for quick repatriation, without verifying their identities. NGOs reported they did not have access to migrants quickly repatriated to Egypt and Tunisia.
Refoulement: The government provided protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
On February 23, the ECHR criticized the government for the collective expulsion of North African migrants in violation of the prohibition against inhuman or degrading treatment and collective expulsion. The case involved 13 Eritreans and 11 Somalis intercepted at sea and returned to Libya, their country of embarkation, against their will in 2009 without being properly identified or allowed to request asylum.
On April 3, the government signed with the government of Libya an unpublished agreement to collaborate against illegal migration and increase patrols of the sea off the Libyan coast. Some NGOs criticized the government for not disclosing the terms and provisions in the agreement and speculated that this agreement could result in some cases of migrants’ being “pushed back” to Libya.
Refugee Abuse: There were reports of disturbances at detention centers for migrants throughout the year. Migrants protested their living conditions or their deportation to home and transit countries.
On May 24, dozens of detainees in a detention center in Rome were involved in an uprising against four guards, who used tear gas to protect themselves and prevent detainees from escaping. The episode followed protests in the preceding weeks at the Modena and Bologna identification and expulsion centers.
According to a March 6 report by the Senate Human Rights Committee, immigration centers hosted 4,627 asylum seekers in December 2011. The report denounced promiscuity between adults and minors, overcrowding, prolonged periods of detention, and inadequate access to cultural mediators and lawyers.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reported several cases of racist violence and killings of migrants, including destruction of their property. On September 6, 10 teenagers yelling racist insults assaulted and robbed an Ecuadorian man. Police arrested six of them. On April 17, a passenger on a flight to Algeria posted online a picture of two Algerians gagged and tied with tape by Italian police officers for the repatriation flight. During a parliamentary hearing on April 20, the interior minister recognized the incident as an abuse of human dignity.
Employment: Discrimination against noncitizens in the labor market and the lack of appropriate legal protection against exploitation or abusive working conditions persisted. The CERD noted that discrimination against noncitizens in the labor market persisted and expressed concern over the lack of appropriate legal protection for migrants, in particular against exploitation or abusive working conditions.
Access to Basic Services: The CERD reported living situations lacked access to the most basic facilities. On a visit in July the commissioner for human rights of the Council of Europe observed poor living conditions in an abandoned university building occupied by approximately 800 refugees unable to find a fixed accommodation. NGOs reported that hundreds of legal and illegal foreigners, including asylum seekers, lived in seven abandoned buildings in Rome and had limited access to public services.
Temporary Protection: The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees.