“As illustrated in the country reports on Hungary and Bulgaria the Eastern border Member States of the European Union have become trendsetters in disturbingly ‘creative’ measures disregarding the fundamental rights of those seeking protection. Europe’s Southern borders are also a laboratory for deflection policies, with the ‘hotspot’ transformation of Italy’s asylum system raising grave concerns,” says Minos Mouzourakis, AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.


Reception conditions remain the central challenge facing the Italian asylum system. Over 75% of the refugee and migrant population were hosted in temporary reception centres (CAS), where conditions present serious concerns and generally remain unsuitable for longer-term stay.

Despite steady decrease in previous years, detention practices are increasingly resorted to, not least under the EU’s hotspot approach. Italy has recently committed to reactivate existing and create additional Identification and Expulsion Centres (CIE) across the territory, as well as issuing detention instructions targeting specific nationalities such as Nigerians. At the same time, Italy has introduced reforms to curtail crucial rights in the asylum procedure by abolishing the Court of Appeal as a second judicial instance in asylum cases, while restricting the possibility for an applicant to be heard by the court.

Read the full country report here.


On the basis of an agreement leading almost all persons rescued by Maltese Armed Forces or on Maltese waters to be disembarked in Italy, Malta has overhauled its reception system away from a previous policy of systematic detention. With the transposition of the recast Directives, the main feature of the new reception system is that detention is now no longer either mandatory or an automatic consequence of the decision to issue a removal order. Asylum seekers arriving irregularly in Malta are now taken to an Initial Reception Centre. According to the authorities, only 20 asylum seekers were detained in 2016. However, the interpretation of detention provisions remains concerning, namely due to the application of alternatives to detention even where there are no grounds for depriving an asylum seeker of their liberty.

Read the full country report here.


More non-governmental organisations were enlisted to provide accommodation in 2016 to respond to increasing demand. Four additional organisations were subcontracted by the Ministry of Employment to manage new reception places for asylum seekers and refugees in Spain. The total number of accommodation places has increased from 1,656 places at the end of 2015 to 4,104 at the end of 2016.

Yet the sharp divide between accommodation in the mainland and in the Ceuta and Melilla enclaves persists. Despite a substantial increase in capacity in the mainland, the Migrant Temporary Stay Centres (CETI) in Ceuta and Melilla have continued to face severe overcrowding in 2016. The two centres, whose maximum capacity is 1,308 places, hosted 2,009 persons at the end of the year.

Read the full country report here

Photo: Photo Unit