CIR - MINNITI PLAN: NECESSARY TO REFORM THE ASYLUM SYSTEM WITH A FOCUS ON SAFEGUARDING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
8TH FEBRUARY 2017 - The Italian Refugee Council welcomes the Minniti Plan with interest, hoping that this will translate into legislative proposals that will make the asylum system more effective for safeguarding the right to protection.
“It is positive that Minister Minniti is dealing with the issue of refugees and migrants, a theme that in recent years has become a structural and mass problem, with an integrated plan presented to parliament and articulated into diverse legislative proposals that deal with the complexity of various aspects: reception, protection, safeguarding of rights, without neglecting the legitimate necessity of guaranteeing citizens’ security,” explains Roberto Zaccaria, President of the Italian Refugee Council (CIR).
REFORM OF THE ASYLUM PROCEDURE
We agree with the necessity to reform the appeals against decisions to deny international protection making the procedure more efficient and increasing the effectiveness of justice. The time frame from the first level of judicial decision-making to final appeals can last for years, while the decisions on a territorial level are markedly different. This creates an inefficient system and produces backlogs within the reception system. We believe that it is necessary to make the entire process of evaluation for protection more effective and more rapid, both in the administrative phase and the jurisdictional phase in full respect for the rights and procedural guarantees and without introducing discrimination.
RECEPTION AND SOCIALLY USEFUL WORK
Another chapter dealt with in the plan concerns an issue that has been the focus of the Interior Ministry’s work in recent months: the reception of asylum seekers. It is evident that the shift towards a micro reception system spread out across the whole country would represent the fastest possible solution and this is essential. The intention to involve a growing number of local councils through their involvement with the SPRAR System with its many incentives, as outlined in the ANCI plan, is very positive..
It is also right to encourage the integration of asylum seekers, also through language teaching and professional training and through the proposal for socially useful work and other types of activities: inactivity distances asylum seekers from their potential integration. The Minister has spoken about unpaid socially useful work, in this case we believe that it would be opportune to call
this voluntary work. More generally we could not agree to any proposal to make socially useful work obligatory for the purposes of reception. Furthermore, the recognition of the status of refugee or subsidiary protection can in no way be linked with the precondition of work by the asylum seeker or involvement in socially useful projects: this would be incompatible with national and international law.
EFFECTIVENESS OF RETURN
Finally, the plan includes provisions to streamline the return procedure in the case that migrants are found to be in the country without full and regular permits to remain. “It is essential, first of all to abolish the crime of clandestine immigration that, according to the judegement of the magistrates themselves, creates more problems than it resolves. To pursue the repatriation of those who do not have the right to stay in Italy, increasing the effectiveness of the orders for removal from the territory is a theme that is highly complex, it should be noted that on a European level only 40% of the orders to leave EU territory are respected: for this reason we believe that diverse types of intervention are necessary,” continues Zaccaria. For CIR repatriation should be performed for the most part through voluntary or assisted return, with the development of programmes for reintegration. Forms that respect the dignity of the migrant make return more sustainable and are cheaper than forced returns (international research estimates that voluntary assisted returns cost five times less than forced deportations; in Switzerland they have estimated that the cost of forced deportations is around 16 thousand euros per migrant).
We welcome Minister Minniti’s proposal to double the funds allocated to these measures.
We believe that is necessary to begin from the principles established by the De Mistura Commission that outlines the diversification of solutions for different categories of people, gradual and proportional measures of intervention and incentives to encourage cooperation between migrants and the authorities. We believe that there are entire categories for whom detention in CIE or in the new Permanent Deportation Centres is pointless. Prisoners that have completed their prison terms, for example, who should be identified and, if expelled, deported directly on their release from prison: or the example of victims of severe labour exploitation whose treatment should be more oriented towards social protection. For those people who have failed to obtain the full legal entitlement to reside in the country there should be measures to enable their regularization either through family links or through new employment possibilities. “We are convinced that detention should be a last resort for irregular migrants in the territory and applied only in the case that other measures are not feasible and have been refused. It would appear from the figures estimated for the numbers of detentions (1600), which are far lower than the number of irregular migrants, that the Ministry too believes that it should only be employed for extreme cases,” continues Zaccaria.
FOREIGN UNACCOMPANIED MINORS
We are in absolute agreement with Minister Minniti in underlining the centrality of the theme of protection and reception for foreign unaccompanied minors. We hope that the Zampa Legislation will be approved rapidly in the Senate and that specific and adequate measures will be enacted.