6 May 2016

ECRE member ASGI in collaboration with the Italian organisations APN and NAGA, have highlighted a worrying practice taking place at the police station (“Questura”) in Milan, whereby people asking for international protection who are not deemed in clear need of it, without any proper assessment, are handed an expulsion order on the spot, without any assessment of their protection claims.

On arrival at the police station, asylum seekers are handed a very short questionnaire allegedly used to determine whether there is a clear need of international protection or whether the person is an ‘economic migrant’. In the latter case, people are immediately handed an expulsion order. According to information provided by the organisations to ECRE, this practice seems particularly common with people who are not accompanied by a lawyer or social worker when making their asylum claim, and are thus more vulnerable and have less knowledge of their legal rights in the matter. When the expulsion order has been challenged by legal practitioners on behalf of the claimants, such orders have been quashed.

Interpreters are rarely available for asylum seekers, and lawyers and social workers are increasingly obstructed from assisting their clients and accompanying them to the police station. This practice would constitute an attempt to replicate the “hotspots” model and would be in clear violation of a Ministerial communication (“Circolare Morcone” of early 2016) explicitly stating that denying the possibility to present an asylum claim is illegal. Member States also have an obligation under EU law to carry out an individual assessment of any asylum claim.

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 6 May 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.