Last week the Minniti-Orlando immigration decree-law was approved by the Italian Senate and this week by the lower parliamentary chamber, despite criticism from civil society organisations and the Magistrates’ Association. The Italian Association for Legal Studies on Immigration (ASGI) warns that the new law foresees unconstitutional legal changes and will severely limit safeguards for asylum seekers in Italy.

Among the main legislative changes is the abolition of the possibility to appeal a negative asylum decision by the Civil Court to the Court of Appeal. This limits the stages of jurisdiction for asylum seekers to two levels, contradicting the constitution that foresees a uniform application of three stages in all legal cases. Further, Civil Courts will no longer be required to invite the asylum seeker to a hearing but will be able to examine the appeal on the basis of the video-recording of the first instance interview.

Other changes that will come in place with the decree include the extension of pre-removal detention centres (CPR) in every region of the country, as well as a framework for asylum seekers to engage in unpaid community work.

Lorenzo Trucco, president of ASGI, stresses: “We are carrying out public campaigns and petitions. Unfortunately from a legal point of view it is almost impossible to amend the decree. We will raise a series of constitutionality issues because there are illegal aspects. But it’s a long, complicated road. A political response is needed but what lies ahead is darkness. The only hope is a bottom-up push for change, if citizens become aware.”

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Photo: (cc) Haru_q