Since 21 September 2016, the police station (Questura) in Rome is not accepting any new asylum claims. According to a number of organisations including ECRE members CIR – Italian Refugee Council and ASGI, police officers at the entrance of the police station are verbally informing those who arrive with the intention to claim asylum of the impossibility to do so, and advising them to come back from 21 October onwards.
In a joint press release, the organisations expressed strong concerns about this practice, which is justified by the Rome police station as necessary to deal with the existing backlog of asylum applications. There is no official communication from Italian authorities regarding this development, adding to the opacity and arbitrariness of the situation. Worryingly, those who are not registered or hosted in a reception centre, are left with no other option but sleeping rough on the streets or in provisional shelters set up by volunteers.
The organisations called for an immediate meeting with the authorities demanding an explanation and the prompt restoring of access to the asylum procedure, putting an end to a practice that is violating national and international asylum law.
CIR recently reiterated its call for an immediate restoring of access to the asylum procedure at the Questura in Rome. “We also want to underline that many of the people affected by this measure have passed through a ‘hotspot’ set up by the European Union. They have all been fingerprinted and registered, but they have not been provided with accurate information on how to claim asylum. They are twice victims of a non-functioning system,” stated Fiorella Rathaus, CIR’s Director, to the ECRE Weekly Bulletin.