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POLITICS

Salvini’s anti-migrant security decree becomes law in Italy

The new package of laws came into force yesterday, removing humanitarian protection and making it more difficult to obtain Italian citizenship.

Salvini's anti-migrant security decree becomes law in Italy
A drawing of Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is displayed on a banner. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italy yesterday formally adopted the anti-migrant and security decree, despite fierce criticism from opponents.

The Decree-Law on Immigration and Security, pushed by far-right League leader and interior minister Matteo Salvini, abolishes humanitarian protection status for migrants and makes it easier to strip migrants of Italian citizenship.

It also stops asylum seekers from accessing reception centres designed to combat social exclusion, the UN said.

Often referred to as the 'Salvini decree', not least by Salvini himself, it’s a package of laws made up of 42 articles.

The bill was passed in the lower house of parliament with 396 in favour to 99 against.

The Senate had already given the go-ahead to Salvini's controversial decree, which the populist coalition government of Salvini's League and Luigi Di Maio's Five Star Movement (M5S) first put forward in September.

And it had already been used to force asylum seekers out of reception centres in Rome and onto the streets.

“I'm happy, it's a memorable day,” Salvini told journalists, shrugging off criticism from “left-wingers who think illegal immigration is not a problem”.

The bill however also affects refugees and legal immigrants, particularly anyone applying for Italian citizenship.

As The Local reported last week, the decree means that all Italian citizenship applications via naturalization or marriage will now take four years, instead of the previous two, to be processed by the Italian government.

This causes further bureaucratic headaches for British nationals living in Italy, as it means their applications for citizenship won’t be reviewed before the end of the expected Brexit transition period.

READ ALSO: Salvini meets rescued migrants, promises 'welcome' in Italy

The decree also ends two-year “humanitarian protection” residency permits – a lower level of asylum status based on Italian rather than international law – given to 25 percent of Italy’s asylum seekers last year, AFP reports.

Instead, residency permits will now take the form of a one-year “special protection” status or a six-month “natural disaster in country of origin” status.

A new procedure to fast-track the expulsion of “dangerous” asylum seekers will also come into force.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The Italian Refugee Council has said it is “seriously concerned” by the new laws.

The decree “will not achieve in any way the objective that the legislator has set out; that is, more security in our country,” said Mario Morcone director of CIR, the Italian Refugee Council.

READ ALSO: As racist attacks increase, is there a 'climate of hatred' in Italy?

“The abolition of humanitarian protection will create thousands of irregular migrants who cannot be repatriated,” he said.

“The dismantling of Sprar [asylum-seeker reception centres] will create new forms of marginalisation, a drift of social exclusion that will inevitably make the people who arrive in Italy more fragile, increasing the risk of conflict and making them permeable to paths of radicalisation.”

Second thoughts on UN migration pact

The bill's adoption followed a statement from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's distancing Italy from the UN’s new migration pact.

Conte's statement on the UN pact was the latest sign that some countries who signed up to the agreement in July after 18 months of talks are now having second thoughts.

Switzerland, Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States have also either publicly disavowed the pact or notified the United Nations that they are withdrawing or postponing a decision.

The non-binding UN accord lays out objectives to facilitate legal migration, as the number of people on the move worldwide has grown to 250 million, or just over three percent of the world's population.

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POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy, migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy, migration

Meloni’s trip — her second to a North African country this week — is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.

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