On November 7, the Italian Senate approved the new Decree-Law on immigration and security, introducing significant amendments and restrictions to the current asylum framework, prompting protests in the capital and opposition from institutions and organisations.

The law includes amendments in qualification and reception provisions, abolishes the humanitarian protection status and restricts access to accommodation in SPRAR (Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers) hosting facilities. Several detention and procedure-related amendments also predict significant changes in asylum standards and living conditions, while the decree includes provisions that make expulsion of aliens and citizenship revocation easier.

On Saturday, several thousand protesters participated in a march organised in Rome against the decree, which has been dubbed as the “Salvini decree” in reference to Matteo Salvini, the Interior Minister who is behind it. The protesters targeted the Minister’s hostile stance on migrant and refugee rights which has been prevalent amid wider anti- EU rhetoric.

The decree has been widely criticised by local NGOs, with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) releasing a press statement concerning the destructive impact the measures could have on access to protection and the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. On Thursday, November 15, the High Council of the Judiciary issued an opinion on the content of the decree, stating that it violates the constitutional rights of refugees and migrants.

On the same day, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, described the bill as a step back on migration and asylum that “raises several concerns regarding the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers” specifically noting the restriction of reception and integration standards.

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Photo: (CC) Franz Jachim, October 2015

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.