27 October 2020
On 5 October the Italian council of ministers adopted a decree that reverses a number of policies introduced by former interior minister Matteo Salvini. Residency permits will once again be available on humanitarian grounds, and asylum-seekers will have the right to access services offered through the country's reception system. However, the government has maintained fines for the crews of ships carrying out search and rescue activities, merely reducing the penalty from one million to €50,000. Parliamentary oversight may see changes to the new rules.
"It pledged last year to do so, and now the Italian government has restored some humanity to its immigration and asylum system. This week, the council of ministers adopted a decree that reverses many of the worst policies imposed by the previous interior minister and current leader of the anti-immigrant League Party, Matteo Salvini.
The decree isn’t perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The decree, adopted October 5, essentially re-establishes in Italian law the residency permit on humanitarian grounds that Salvini abolished in 2018, now called “special protection.”
While the previous government restricted the nation’s reception system to recognized refugees and unaccompanied children, the new decree opens the doors to asylum seekers awaiting a decision. It also ensures asylum seekers have the right to register with the city hall where they live, since a Constitutional Court ruling this past July found the denial of this right made it “unjustifiably difficult for asylum seekers to access the services to which they are entitled.”
One large blot on the decree is the failure to take a clear stand against criminalization of humanitarian activities. The government chose to reduce from 1 million to 50,000 euros, rather than eliminate, the noxious fines on ships that perform search-and-rescue at sea."
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