Andrea Orlando signed the accord with his Moroccan counterpart, Mustafa Ramid, during a meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
The agreement will affect Moroccans who have received a definitive conviction in Italy and have been sentenced to a year or more in prison, the Italian justice ministry said in a statement.
Under the new plan, the convicts will be sent back to Morocco to serve out the rest of their sentence, while receiving “social reintegration” in Morocco where “they have social and family ties”, the ministry said.
There are around 4,000 Moroccan prisoners in Italian prisons, where overcrowding has prompted strong criticism from the European Court of Human Rights.
Orlando said transferring prisoners abroad “can contribute to the government’s bid to confront the problem of Italian prison conditions,” following a visit to Strasbourg earlier this week to discuss the proposal at EU level.
No prisoner will be sent back to Morocco without giving their consent, a justice ministry spokesman told The Local.
Nor will the agreement affect second-generation immigrants, born in Italy to Moroccan parents who cannot gain Italian citizenship until they are 18.
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“This is exclusively for Moroccan citizens that have the possibility to reintegrate,” the spokesman said, explaining that this would not be possible for someone whose family life and friendships were all in Italy.