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Committee against Torture considers report of Italy

GENEVA (15 November 2017) - The Committee against Torture this afternoon completed its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Italy on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Gennaro Migliore, Under-Secretary of State for Justice Affairs of Italy, said that the Government of Italy had made a profound change in the policies and measures concerning the protection of fundamental rights of detainees and in countering any possible inhuman or degrading situation or treatment.  The crime of torture had been introduced in the Penal Code, jointly with the crime of incitement to torture by public officials, whereas the national preventive mechanism with a full-fledged mandate had been in place since January 2016.  Italy’s prison population had dropped significantly since 2013, while the use of alternative detention measures had been on the rise since 2011.  Turning to the issue of large migration flows, Mr. Migliore reminded that the Government had recently signed an agreement with Libya to build cooperation on economic and social development and to tackle irregular migration.

Fabrizio Petri, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights of Italy, explained that the new act on torture aimed to cover all conduct of relevance, including that which could be committed by private authors.  As for migration and cooperation with Libya, Italy had raised the issue of humanitarian conditions in reception centres in Libya in every forum.  It had asked all stakeholders to step up their efforts to ensure decent conditions and had provided financial support for humanitarian efforts in Libya.  It was important to move on to rapid, effective and staunch action in order to fight migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons. 

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts inquired about the definition of torture and noted that there should be no statute of limitations for crimes of torture.  They observed that given the scope of the humanitarian crisis in Italy in recent years, it was important to expand the capacities of detention facilities.  They expressed concern about the “crisis centre” approach adopted by the State party, leading to collective expulsions, excessive use of force, prolonged detention, and inadequate protection given to unaccompanied minors.  Another concern was the implementation of Italy’s cooperation agreement with Libya on migration management, particularly reports that smuggler groups in Libya had been paid to keep migrants in the country.  Other issues highlighted by Committee Experts were prison overcrowding and cell size, the special detention regime, the use of preventive detention, judicial guarantees for detained persons, measures adopted to fight impunity for cases of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement forces, reparations for victims of torture, violence against women, expulsions on the grounds of national security, ministerial expulsion orders, rendition flights, respect for the principle of non-refoulement, and unaccompanied minors.   

In concluding remarks, Mr. Petri thanked the Committee for the fruitful exchange and the attention paid to the Italian legislation and system.  He added that the State party was ready to keep the dialogue open.

Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for its diligent replies and very constructive dialogue.               

The delegation of Italy included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will next meet in public on Friday, 17 November, at 10 a.m., to begin its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Mauritius (CAT/C/MUS/4). 

Report

The combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Italy can be found here: CAT/C/ITA/5-6.

Presentation of the Report

MAURIZIO ENRICO LUIGI SERRA, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Italian authorities firmly believed in the promotion and protection of human rights for all, including the fight against all forms of torture, violence and discrimination.   Italy looked forward to having a constructive dialogue with the Committee.

GENNARO MIGLIORE, Under-Secretary of State for Justice Affairs of Italy, noted that the Government of Italy had made a profound change in the policies and measures concerning the protection of fundamental rights of detainees and in countering any possible inhuman or degrading situation or treatment.  The crime of torture had been introduced by Act No. 110/2017 in the Penal Code, jointly with the crime of incitement to torture by public officials.  As for the establishment of a national human rights institution in line with the Paris Principles, an important debate had taken place at all levels, and a draft piece of legislation had been debated within the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the Senate.  The national preventive mechanism with a full-fledged mandate had been in place since January 2016.  Mr. Migliore highlighted changes at the legislative level, such as the rise in the use of financial penalty instead of detention, reform of the Penitentiary Act, extension of the rights of the injured party, and clear timelines to conclude preliminary investigations by the Public Prosecutor.  Italy’s prison population had dropped significantly since 2013, whereas the use of alternative detention measures had been on the rise since 2011.  The Government had also made detainees’ right to work effective and it had closed down all judicial psychiatric hospitals and had replaced them with local health-care departments with individualized rehabilitation programmes.  The Government had also adopted measures to support relationships and parenthood in detention. 

Turning to the issue of large migratory flows, Mr. Migliore stressed that migrations could not be considered as transitional or temporary, adding that they required a multilevel strategy.  There was a need for a collective approach and work at both the national and European Union levels to manage migration flows and to address their root causes.  The Government had recently signed an agreement with Libya to build up cooperation on economic and social development and to tackle irregular migration.  The agreement envisaged an Italian-Libyan joint committee and Italian training to Libyan personnel to act against migration smuggling and trafficking in human beings.  The European Commission had approved an Italian project for support to integrated border and migration management in Libya.  In 2016, Italy had 123,000 asylum applications and its recent law decree no. 13/2017 aimed at speeding up proceedings in the field of international protection.  It aimed at closing down all expulsion and identification centres, setting up small repatriation centres across the country, ensuring full access for the protection of persons deprived of liberty, reducing the duration of asylum-related proceedings, and establishing specialized judicial sections on asylum, immigration and statelessness.  The decree also envisioned the establishment of “hot spots”, in line with European Union rules.  Unaccompanied minors were at the core of the current reception system in Italy.  The forced return of unaccompanied minors under the age of 18 was forbidden.  The authorities were committed to ensuring adequate human rights training to all law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, Mr. Migliore concluded. 

Questions by Country Co-Rapporteurs

CLAUDE HELLER ROUASSANT, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Italy, inquired about the definition of torture and raised concern about the fact that legislation treated torture as a generic crime, noting that there should be no statute of limitations for crimes of torture.  As for the establishment of the national institution for human rights, what was the status of that project?  It was essential that it be established on a priority basis and pursuant to the Paris Principles. 

The national mechanism for the prevention of torture had full access to places of detention, including those for immigrants.  However, the Committee noticed that given the scope of the humanitarian crisis in Italy in recent years, it was important to expand the capacities of detention facilities.  The efforts made by Italy to deal with the massive influx of migrants and its sea rescue operations were praiseworthy.  The asylum-seeking resettlement programme of the European Union had not entered into force and only 2,654 asylum seekers out of 40,000 had been resettled from Italy.  The four detention centres in Sicily had the highest number of asylum seekers applying for the resettlement programme.  The Committee was concerned by the “crisis centre” approach adopted by the State party, leading to collective expulsions, excessive use of force and prolonged detention.  There was also a problem of inadequate protection given to unaccompanied minors. 

In that regard, Mr. Heller Roussant cited several cases of collective expulsion, such as the expulsion of 95 Nigerians in January 2017 and 48 Sudanese in August 2016 who had been fleeing violence in Darfur.  The socio-political situation in the country of return had to be assessed when making expulsion decisions, Mr. Heller Roussant underlined.  The approval of the Minniti Orlando Law in 2017 which had abolished the right to appeal the asylum decisions was of particular concern.  Italy could not avoid its responsibilities under the agreements made with Libya, but those did not hold primacy over the European Convention on Human Rights.  The European Union was trying to transfer its border control to Libya.  The Libyan route was being controlled by militias of a failed State; traffickers held migrants as goods.  There were reports that smuggler groups in Libya had been paid to keep migrants in the country.  How did the State party explain that rapid drop in the number of migrants arriving in Italy (a drop of 70 per cent)?  Was there any connection with the policy conducted with Libya? 

The International Organization for Migration estimated that there were 270,000 migrants in Libya, as well as 42,800 refugees and asylum seekers.  The United Nations Support Mission in Libya had documented extensive human rights violations suffered by migrants in Libya, such as murder, torture, summary executions, sexual abuse and extortion committed by members of the Guardia Costera and criminal gangs.  Had the State party considered a change of cooperation with Libya in order to mitigate those negative effects on migrants? 

Turning to the reported complicity of Italy in rendition flights, in particular in the case of Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, Mr. Heller Roussant inquired about the implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’ decision in that case.  Italy continued to expel alleged terrorists.  Had there been any complaints filed as a result of those expulsions?  What was the number of cases of extradition and what States had requested them? 

How were the security forces dealing with the issue of the ongoing stigmatization and hate speech against the Roma?  There was a very generic language in the regulation on the use of force by the police.

SÉBASTIEN TOUZÉ, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Italy, raised the issue of the special detention regime in Italy, noting that often the punishments were not proportionate to the committed crimes.  How did the State party explain the rise in the number of detainees under the special detention regime between 1993 and 2015?  What was the sentencing, the legal framework and the control exercised by the authorities?  What kind of complaints had been lodged by detainees?  The surface area of cells was often smaller than in standard cells.  As for the video surveillance, it should be proportional and entirely justified.  Could criteria be revised in any way and could prisoners’ conduct lead to that revision?             

What legislation was applicable in the case of preventive detention?  The increase in the number of persons in preventive detention was due to the rise in the number of foreigners, who made up 70 per cent of all the incarcerated population.   Overall, persons in preventive detention accounted for 40 per cent of all the prison population.  How could the State party explain that figure, knowing that the European average was 25 per cent?  What concrete measures had been taken to reduce the use of preventive detention? 

Prison overcrowding and detention conditions had been some of the major problems in Italy for a long time.  The occupancy rate stood at almost 120 per cent.  In a decision taken in January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights had stated that detention conditions in Italy were deplorable.  What measures had been taken to meet the minimum standards in all prisons in Italy?  Some 16 per cent of prisoners lived in cells smaller than four square meters.  In the Florence Questura prison conditions were particularly worrisome. 

Turning to prison surveillance, Mr. Touzé inquired about prisoners’ spare-time activities and the appropriate budget resources devoted to those.  What measures had been taken to prevent cases of physical maltreatment?  What was the judicial follow-up regarding the cases of Stefano Cucchi, Rachid Assarag, Mohamed Carlos Gola and Guiseppe Rotundo? 

As for vulnerable groups in detention facilities, Mr. Touzé welcomed the existence of special units reserved for female detainees with children.                    

On judicial guarantees, there were allegations of arbitrary arrests.  What was the number of complaints of arbitrary arrests?  Mr. Touzé also referred to the excessive use of force by the police during public demonstrations.  What sanctions had been handed down in those cases?  Had the State party revised the setting up of a ceiling for providing free legal aid?  Had measures been adopted to secure access to a translator and a lawyer?  What measures had been taken to improve the keeping of detention registries?  Had the State party made sure that all medical examinations of detainees took place outside the surveillance of prison staff?  What legislative measures allowed detainees to be examined by a medical doctor of their own choosing?  What measures had been taken to reduce the rate of suicide and the risk of suicide in prisons?

As for the prevention of acts of torture, what was the role played by the Disciplinary Service?  Were there updated figures on sentences pronounced against State agents and officials?  According to the Criminal Code, there was no specific procedure to penalize the acts of torture and ill-treatment committed by law enforcement forces.  There were allegations that detainees could not lodge complaints against law enforcement forces.  Acquittals were a matter of real concern, Mr. Touzé noted. 

What measures could be adopted to fight impunity for cases of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement forces?  Was it true that they did not have to carry identification documents? 

Italian laws had brought a significant deal of improvement in the allocation of reparations for victims of torture.  What were the details of those changes? 

Questions by Committee Experts

With respect to guarantees for the right to legal counsel, when could one notify a relative or an attorney?  Was it only when they were detained for 24 hours?  Was the individual detainee allowed to personally contact a friend or relative? 

On monitoring of sexual violence in prisons, had any specific conclusions been reached as the result of that monitoring?  What was the recent data on the prosecution of violence against women?  What had the State party learned about the prevention and prosecution of femicide?  What protection measures had been taken to protect foreign women from violence?  What information was available about female genital mutilation?     

Turning to expulsions on the grounds of national security, Experts underlined the high number of expulsions in 2017, which was almost six times greater than the previous year.  There was a lack of legal clarity about the grounds on which persons could be expelled, the high discretional power of the Ministry of the Interior, and the lack of information provided to the defence. 

Experts also expressed concern about the submission of complaints by detainees and about vulnerable groups in detention, such as Italians of foreign origin, the Roma and unaccompanied minors.  Experts urged the State party to heed more attention to their needs.  What were the possible results of the programme to fight trafficking and smuggling of migrants? 

Turning to Italy’s bilateral agreements with various countries regarding the return of migrants, and especially with countries that had still not ratified the Convention, such as Sudan and The Gambia, Experts asked about clear provisions to respect the Convention and to comply with the principle of non-refoulement when there was a risk of torture in the country of origin.  What was the legal justification for high-sea returns?  There were particularly serious concerns about Italy’s agreement with Libya where migrants suffered from appalling human rights violations.  What was the status of “hot spots”?  What was the number of unaccompanied minors and what were the guarantees for their non-refoulement?  
 
What guarantees of independence were in place for the national mechanism for the prevention of torture?

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, inquired about the initial medical examination of detainees.  How well did that mechanism function?  Who evaluated whether the judicial authorities should be reported to?  How many cases had been registered as potential cases of torture and ill-treatment?  How many had been investigated and prosecuted?

Replies by the Delegation

GENNARO MIGLIORE, Under-Secretary of State for Justice Affairs of Italy, clarified that the legislative framework of Italy was entirely independent and autonomous, and the definition of crimes allowed judges to apply protection to victims.  The definition of torture was extensive enough.  Even one case of conduct that had the characteristics of inhuman and degrading treatment could be considered as torture.  There were aggravating circumstances if torture was perpetrated by State officials.  The crime of instigation to torture also applied to the actions of State officials.  The scope of applicability no longer depended solely on the interpretation by judges. 

FABRIZIO PETRI, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights of Italy, explained that the new act on torture aimed to cover all conduct of relevance, including that which could be committed by private authors.  Each conduct was distinct and independent and they were not to be read jointly.  The psychological trauma reference was intended as a reference to a test method.

As for migration and cooperation with Libya, Italy had raised the issue of humanitarian conditions in reception centres in Libya in every forum.  It had asked all stakeholders to step up their efforts to ensure decent conditions and it had provided financial support for humanitarian efforts in Libya.  It was important to move on to rapid, effective and staunch action in order to fight migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons, Mr. Petri stated.  

The delegation explained that the maximum statute of limitation for the crime of torture was 15 years and it could be increased to 18 years when perpetrated by State officials.  As for the terminology used in the formulation of the crime of torture, psychological trauma had to be verified by a medical doctor or an expert appointed by a judge.  It was much easier for a judge to ascertain torture and to move on to a conviction.      

Turning to the cooperation with Libya, the delegation noted that the situation in Libya was difficult, but added that it should not prevent Italy from carrying out European Union initiatives to combat smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons, and provide capacity building for the Libyan coast guard and police, and judicial cooperation.  The capacity-building project accounted for one third of the overall initiatives of the European Union in Libya.  The Italian Government was entirely aware that everything provided to the Libyan Government had to go hand in hand with efforts to provide adequate conditions for migrants.  The main goal of those initiatives was to achieve economic, social and political stabilization in the Libyan territory, one of them being countering unlawful income arising from smuggling of migrants. 

A comprehensive approach in certain areas, such as bringing stability in Libya, had led to a reduction in migration flows to Italy.  Italy was also conducting a dialogue with countries of origin of migrants, namely on the socio-economic root causes of migration, which had also led to reduced migration flows.  The improvement in socio-economic conditions in Libya would also allow migrants to find jobs there.  The reduction in migration flows had also led to decreasing loss of life at sea.  Italy should not forget the Hirsi ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.  There was an absolute obligation to comply with that principle and there was no pushback by the Italian maritime forces at sea.  However, Italy could not prevent the Libyan coastguard from operating in its own territorial waters.      

With respect to humanitarian organizations providing rescue at sea, there was an obligation to safeguard life at sea and ensure a greater level of security in rescue operations.  The Government’s actions backed up by the European Union had been conducted to raise accountability and to ensure that vessels were appropriate to provide rescue services for migrants.  Italy would try to implement projects with the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration, and to re-assess the political situation in Libya.  When political conditions were no longer in place, those projects would be suspended.  Humanitarian assistance for migrants in Libya was one of the pillars of the ongoing efforts made by the European Union.  The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called a tender for non-governmental organizations to manage detention centres holding migrants in Libya.

As for the “hot spots,” they were not detention centres but rather first reception centres for migrants, once they were taken off the boats.  Some 35 per cent of arriving migrants had been seen within “hot spots.”  But the reception procedure for their reception was the same one.  There was a health screening of migrants, immediate information provided on asylum procedures and international protection, and identification of possible vulnerable conditions.  There was an obligation to identify migrants, pursuant to European Union regulations.  Some 99 per cent of them received photographic identification.  However, some people refused to be subjected to such a procedure.  According to Italian law, the police force could proceed to use force in order to deprive personal liberty and obtain identification.  The use of force was a measure of last resort. 

On expulsion and return of migrants, there was no doubt that Italy had heavily drawn on the Hirsi ruling and the Khlaifia ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.  The principle of non-refoulement was enshrined in Italy’s Migration Law and no exceptions were allowed.  Italy had applied the principle of non-refoulement in a much more stringent way than the Geneva Conventions.  Italy did not return anyone to those countries where there were no human rights safeguards, unlike some other European countries.  Expulsions were decided on a case-by-case basis.  The Frontex Agency ensured that in the case of collective repatriation there had to be a monitor on board.  Individuals had the right to request asylum right until the plane door was shut, and then the expulsion order was suspended. 

Detention in repatriation centres was an administrative, temporary holding of persons and it only affected dangerous individuals.  The police force had the possibility to use alternative measures.  As for the ministerial expulsion order, it occurred upon a mandate of institutions tasked with ensuring public security.  That was not a special procedure.  It was exactly the same one that was taken in a regular expulsion order and it could not supersede the principle of non-refoulement.  However, due to terrorist threats there had been an increase in the use of ministerial expulsion orders.

Since 2005 Italy had had agreements with the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration on providing information about asylum procedures to migrants.  As of 2014, tens of thousands of migrants had been rescued and taken to Italian ports.  Not all migrants could stay in “hot spots” and some were transferred to various provinces in Italy.  Each prefect managed the migrant reception centre aimed at ensuring social integration of migrants. 

The Italian legal system afforded equal treatment of Italian and foreign unaccompanied minors.  All unaccompanied minors were protected from refoulement and were accommodated in facilities specifically meant for them, with tailored education and integration programmes.  Unaccompanied minors accounted for some 15 per cent of all migrants in 2017.  Age assessment was done through a multidisciplinary approach, and that measure was necessary because most of the unaccompanied minors in Italy were between the age of 16 and 17. 

The delegation explained that the streamlining of international protection procedures was necessary due to the 300-per cent increase in the number of pending requests for international protection. 

Due to the phenomenon of organized crime in Italy, a special detention regime had been set up to correspond to the seriousness of the committed crimes.  The special detention regime was applied to organized crime, (mafia) crimes and terrorism under article 41 bis of the Law on the Penitentiary System.  It was not harsh regime, but it separated mafia bosses from other detainees.  It was monitored by the national prevention mechanism, in line with the Convention. 

Turning to the regular detention regime, there was a high prison occupancy rate, namely 120 per cent.  However, there was a need to standardize parameters for determining prison overcrowding.  Some 80 per cent of detainees had a minimum living space of more than four square meters.  More than 30 per cent of detainees spent around eight to 10 hours outside their cell.  The Government did not want to build more prisons, but rather to work on alternative measures to detention.  All detention facilities were under video surveillance.  Some 35 per cent of detainees were in preventive detention, but measures were being taken to reduce its use.  Detainees could lodge a complaint and seek remedies from the court of cassation.  

Nothing allowed for covert solitary confinement and there could be no two consecutive terms of solitary confinement.  As for the case of Stefano Cucchi, police officers were being prosecuted on manslaughter charges.  In the case of beating of Mohamed Carlos Gola by security officers, compensation had been provided and the prison authorities had begun disciplinary proceedings.  Moroccan citizen Rachid Assarag had been found doctoring a video aimed at showing maltreatment by Italian prison staff and he had been expelled from Italy on terrorist charges.     

Medical examination of detainees was not conducted in the presence of prison staff and it was under the auspices of the Ministry of Health rather than the Ministry of the Interior.  All detainees had the right to be visited by their own medical doctor at their own expense.  As for suicides in detention, there had been five suicides in 10 years. 

The fight against gender-based violence was a long-term priority for the Government, which had recently taken additional protective measures for victims of gender-based violence.  There had been a decrease in the number of femicides.  As for ill-treatment, domestic and sexual violence, there too the figures had decreased. 
    
Follow-up Questions by Country Co-Rapporteurs

CLAUDE HELLER ROUASSANT, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Italy, observed that the wording of the definition of the crime of torture was confusing, and that the statute of limitations was not proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. 

Mr. Heller Rouassant reminded of the concerns voiced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding the inhuman detention conditions for migrants in Libya, and that the European Union had done nothing to reduce their suffering.  Something was not working in the implementation of Italy’s cooperation agreement with Libya, which had assumed the role of an external border of the European Union.  Was Italy not able to demand the respect for human rights in detention centres in Libya?  Could it move from denunciation to swift action?  Italy had to review its migration and cooperation policies, and its legal responsibilities.

Mr. Heller Rouassant noted that the regulation on the use of force needed to be clearer. 

SÉBASTIEN TOUZÉ, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur for Italy, stated that he could not see how the Italian strategy could contribute to the resolution of the migration crisis.  Member States of the European Union had developed a new practice of non-refoulement, which was morally questionable.  They had adopted an approach that “it was okay to dodge international obligations as long as we do not get caught.”  Italy had been found guilty of collective expulsions by the European Court of Human Rights on several occasions.  Had Italy indeed taken into account the risks that returning individuals faced upon return to their countries of origin? 

What measures had been taken to avoid a police crackdown on protesters?

Committee Experts drew attention to the fact that the decrease in the number of migrants arriving in Italy was due to their increasing numbers in detention centres in Libya.  It was about “farming out” the problem.  Was there a plan to assess the current conditions in migrant detention centres in Libya?  What was the legal status of the 75 per cent of illegal “hot spots” in Italy?  What was the average length of migrants’ stay in the “hot spots”? 

Had the State party concluded agreements with countries of origin of unaccompanied minors?  What new developments had occurred in the treatment of the problem of smuggling of migrants?  What was the current role of the Lazio administrative tribunal in assessing expulsions?  

Replies by the Delegation             

FABRIZIO PETRI, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights of Italy, clarified that the European Union had recently made a statement about its efforts in Libya, in response to the statement made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The delegation explained that the statute of limitations of 18 years provided by Italian law for the crime of torture provided ample time for definitive court rulings.  The suffering had to be repeated over time and torture arising solely from unlawful treatment should not be considered torture.  

The Lazio tribunal examined all interests relevant to expulsion and its ruling could be appealed in front of the Council of the State.

It was not true that 75 per cent of “hot spots” were illegal.  The Government had to make available its southern ports to receive migrants rescued at sea.  They did not remain there and were immediately transferred to Italian regions, which received a certain quota of migrants.  Some ports were “hot spots,” depending on whether they had adequate facilities.  The management of reception centres for migrants was set up through tenders.  Monitoring of their management was conducted by prefects or the Ministry of the Interior. 

There were no agreements with third countries regarding unaccompanied minors because there was no refoulement of unaccompanied minors.  However, there was collaboration with third countries’ embassies in tracking their families. 

The Italian-Libyan agreement was a memorandum of understanding and as such it was not legally binding.  Each side could unilaterally dissolve it.  Italian policy on Libya had been put in place hand in hand with the European Commission.  Two thirds of the financial allocations for Libya focused on respect for human rights and assistance for migrants.  The monitoring committee would assess the overall conditions in Libya and if they assessed deficiency of conditions, the European Commission could take the decision to suspend the project.

The Khlaifia ruling of the European Court of Human Rights concerned a closed reception centre on Lampedusa, which had been replaced by an open “hot spot.”  The average stay in “hot spots” varied.  Those were open facilities and migrants could leave them. 

As for the Experts’ observation about the shifting of the European Union borders to Libya, the delegation reminded that all search and rescue operations had been carried out in Libyan or international waters.  The concept of moving borders ran counter to the principle of national sovereignty.  All Libyan interventions had been conducted without the participation of Italy and in their own territorial waters. 

In terms of Italy’s activities to combat trafficking in persons, foreign victims of trafficking were granted residence permits on the grounds of social protection, which could be extended for six months. 

Concluding Remarks

FABRIZIO PETRI, President of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights of Italy, thanked the Committee for the fruitful exchange and the attention paid to the Italian legislation and system.  He added that the State party was ready to keep the dialogue open.

JENS MODVIG, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the diligent replies and very constructive dialogue.

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