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UN Special Rapporteur urges Italy to put human rights at the core of its border management policy

ROME (8 October 2012) – At the end of his nine-day mission to Italy, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, urged the Italian authorities to prioritise a human rights approach when dealing with irregular migration, and not to let security concerns overshadow human rights considerations.

The UN Expert made six key recommendations* today to the Government of Italy on the management of the European Union’s external borders, ranging from bilateral agreements with Libya and other neighbours, to full access by international organisations to migrants, and fairer appeal systems to challenge expulsion and holding orders.

To that end, Mr. Crépeau made the following preliminary recommendations:

Bilateral agreements:
“Ensure that migration cooperation with Libya does not lead to any migrant being returned to Libyan shores against their will, either by Italian authorities, or by Libyan authorities with the technical or logistical support of their Italian counterparts.”

“Although the EU has negotiated a number of EU wide readmission agreements, the absence of a clear regional framework for such agreements, including a lack of minimum human rights standards, has led to the creation of a number of bilateral readmission agreements between Italy and its neighbours which often do not appear to have human rights at their core.”

“In light of the decision of M.S.S. v Greece, in which the European Court of Human Rights held that Greece was not a safe country of return for asylum seekers, and given the testimony I heard from migrants who transited through Greece regarding extreme xenophobic violence against migrants, Italy should formally prohibit the practice of informal automatic ‘push-backs’ to Greece.”

Full access by international organisations
“Guarantee the full access by international organisations, including UNHCR and IOM, civil society organisations and lawyers to all areas where migrants are held or detained.”

“There is no general authority with investigative powers to monitor the activities of all migrant detention call places where migrants are held. I note the Praesidium Project is a positive step, as it provides a framework for access to some centres for a coalition of organisations including the IOM, UNHCR, the Red Cross and Save the Children. Yet, these organisations are still not given full and continuous access to all centers, most notably the temporary centers where the Tunisians and Egyptians are held for quick processing and removal.”

Regulatory framework with human rights at its core
“Develop a nation-wide regulatory framework, with respect for human rights at its core, for the organisation and management of all migrant detention centres.”

Appeal system
“Develop a simpler and fairer appeal system for expulsion and detention orders that integrates human rights considerations at each procedural step.”

Identification system
“Develop a speedier identification system, including commencing the identification of foreign inmates whilst in prison, in order to make sure that detention of migrants for identification is limited to the shortest time possible, with a maximum of 6 months.

During his mission, UN Human Rights Council’s envoy visited Rome, Florence, Palermo, Trapani, Bari and Castel Volturno, where he met with Government representatives, civil society and international organisations, as well as many migrants themselves, often in an irregular situation. The Special Rapporteur also visited three Centers of Identification and Expulsioni (CIE) in Trapani (Milo), Bari (Palese) and Rome (Ponte Galeria).

Mr. Crépeau’s visit to Italy was the fourth stage in his yearlong study on the management of the EU external borders. Earlier this year, he visited Brussels, Vienna, Tunisia and Turkey. He will also visit Greece in November.

The study, launched by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, will result in a special thematic report which will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013.

François Crépeau (Canada) was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants in June 2011 by the UN Human Rights Council, for an initial period of three years. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Crépeau is also Full Professor at the Faculty of Law of McGill University, in Montréal, where he holds the Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law and is scientific director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Migration/SRMigrants/Pages/SRMigrantsIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12640&LangID=E

Read the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cmw.htm

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Italy: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/ITIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact: Jacqui Zalcberg (+41 79 752 0483 / jzalcberg@ohchr.org) or write to migrant@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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