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CPT publishes report on Italian “hotspots” and removal centres

On 10 April 2018, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published the report on its ad hoc visit to Italy, which took place from 7 to 13 June 2017, together with the response of the Italian Government. The visit aimed at examining the situation of foreign nationals deprived of their liberty in the context of large-scale arrivals by sea.

Living conditions were good at Pozzallo and Trapani “hotspots”, and acceptable for short stays at Lampedusa. Several categories of foreign nationals could be de facto detained for weeks, and the report stresses that fundamental legal safeguards should effectively apply in law and in practice in order to reduce the risk of refoulement. Further, the CPT was critical of the fact that unaccompanied minors could remain at the “hotspots” for several weeks due to the lack of available places in dedicated shelters.

At the three closed removal centres (CPRs) visited in Caltanissetta, Rome (Ponte Galeria) and Turin, levels of inter-detainee violence and intimidation appeared to be high. Material conditions were notably poor at CPR Caltanissetta and the CPT is highly critical of the austere and carceral layout at the Caltanissetta and Turin CPRs, which appeared to be marked by a strong emphasis on security. The report also highlights the need to improve the system of recording of injuries and the operation of fundamental legal safeguards of detained persons in CPRs, to establish an effective complaints system and to better regulate the use of segregation units/cells.

In their response, the Italian authorities notably provided a clarification of the legal framework governing the placement of foreign nationals at the “hotspots” and informed the Committee of the temporary closure of Lampedusa “hotspot” and Caltanissetta CPR pending their refurbishment. The response also recognizes the need to improve educational activities to detainees at the CPRs.