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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

‘In our everyday work for almost two years now, we’ve seen with our own eyes the effects of the ‘Security’ legislative decree on thousands of people’s lives. So, the much-awaited amendments to the decree are a big change, and they seem at last to be going in the right direction of respect for human rights, although there are still many gaps.’

This is what EMERGENCY had to say after hearing the Council of Ministers had approved the new ‘Immigration’ decree, reforming the ‘Safety’ decree, on 5 October.

Significantly, the new decree finally gives special protection to all categories of vulnerable people and brings back the right to register as an asylum seeker. Different types of residence permit can now be turned into work permits, although it would be nice if, to make the measure broader and more inclusive, they could give out permits for ‘special cases’ to anyone who lost their humanitarian permit in the last two years thanks to the first ‘Salvini’ decree.

Although the decree steers us back to an approach of general welcome based on the old refugee protection system, asylum seekers waiting for a decision from local committees can only get through to the first level of services, which does not include training or help with work.

And there’s still a crucial point left hanging in the air. The decree does not address the matter of repatriation to the 13 so-called ‘safe countries of origin’ listed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, some of which have a proven record of constantly persecuting women and sexual, religious and political minorities, as well as people trafficking and the rape that comes with it.

Finally, there’s still the issue of the fines slapped on search and rescue crews at sea. The new legislation may mean rescue boats can report to the right coordination centres and flag states right away without falling foul of bans, but if they break any rules or make forced entry into national waters, it will go from an administrative matter to a criminal one. The amendments may require a judge to determine whether any offence has been committed, but the approach is still to criminalise rescuers at sea.

‘Although these reforms point towards greater respect for human rights, we’re still far off organic reforms to manage immigration as a structural phenomenon rather than an emergency or a public order matter, setting up safe, legal channels for getting into our country. We need a new model, one that breaks with the pattern of the “Bossi-Fini” law, the “Salvini” decrees and the EU’s security policies, and sets out rules for legal entry and humanitarian corridors, so there’s a safe alternative to the trips offered by people traffickers,’ EMERGENCY ends.