02 August 2011

It's the law: 18 months in the Italian centres for expulsion

Just in time before closing for vacation until 12 September, the Italian Senate has now passed into law the repatriation decree, already approved by the House on 14 July. With 151 votes in favor and 129 against. The maximum limit of detention in the Centres for Identification and Expulsion (CIE) has thus increased from 6 to 18 months. For the promulgation of the law, all that is technically missing is the signature of the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and the publication in the Official Gazette. But in fact, the norm is already applicable by virtue of the decree approved by the government on 17 June. That is to say, in the CIEs of Milan, Bologna and Turin - to limit ourselves to cases of which we have certain news – during the last three weeks we have seen at least 7 extensions beyond sixth months.

Within the CIEs, inmates have received the news with much anguish. Nobody can explain how one can justify spending 18 months behind bars for an expired residence permit or a journey without a passport. Not even ex-convicts can understand how it is possible to serve 18 months of detention in order to be identified after they have been tried by the Italian courts, and after they have already been detained, sometimes for years, in the prisons of this country.

The only positive note of the day was the approval of a proposed agenda from the opposition that commits the government to withdraw the circular 1305, which prohibits the access of journalists to CIEs and reception centers for asylum seekers (CARA). But it is really a very small consolation on the day that marks one of the gloomiest pages of Italian politics. If nothing else, however, as soon as the right to report is restored (which will probably take a very long time!) we will use this to continue to relay the battles that will inevitably break out in the Cie. Because, and you can bet on this, we’ve got a very hot summer ahead of us.

Updated August 3, 2011
For those interested, on the Italian Senate website you can download the report and videos of session number 595. All very educational material to see how low we are sinking.

translated by Camilla Gamba