Improve treatment of migrants and Roma, Italy told

Italy’s way of treating asylum seekers and refugees has been criticised by Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Releasing a report based on the findings of his visit to Italy from 3rd to 6th July 2012, Mr. Muižnieks said “the near absence of an integration framework for refugees and other beneficiaries of international protection clashes with Italy’s human rights obligations.”

He described as “shocking” the situation of some 800 recognised refugees and beneficiaries of international protection who occupy the so-called “Palace of Shame” in Rome.

Their situation “exposes the fate of deprivation that refugees often face in Italy,” Mr. Muižnieks said.

The Commissioner welcomed Italy’s commitment to no longer pursue the policy of “push-back” of migrants to Libya, which constitutes a human rights violation. “The announced renegotiation of the bilateral agreement with Libya must include appropriate guarantees to prevent human rights violations resulting from possible interceptions and expulsions,” Mr. Muižnieks said. “Attention should also be paid to avoiding similar violations when applying other agreements, such as the readmission agreements with Egypt and Tunisia, and when returning migrants to Greece.”

Mr. Muižnieks also welcomed the adoption of Italy’s first national strategy for the inclusion of Roma and Sinti. “It must now yield concrete actions. The policies of segregated camps and forced evictions should be once and for all discontinued. There is also a continuing need to work against anti-Gypsyism, which remains rampant in political discourse and in the media. Regrettably, some measures taken recently, such as the severe downsizing of UNAR, the anti-discrimination office entrusted with a co-ordinating role under the strategy, may thwart the chances to achieve Roma inclusion and fight against discrimination,” Mr. Muižnieks said.

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