The changes mean it is again possible for refugees and migrants arriving in Italy to apply for humanitarian protection or obtain work permits.
The government has also cut the time needed for Italian citizenship
applications to be processed down from four years to three, Italian newspaper Il Messaggero
reports – though the timeframe was two years before the so-called “Salvini decree” became law in 2018
“Tonight a wall comes down in Italy. We took a while, a bit too long, but now Salvini's so-called 'security decrees' are no longer,” Peppe Provenzano, Minister for the South with the co-ruling Democratic Party (PD) said. adding. “Onward towards a country with more right and more humanity”.
“The Council of Ministers has approved the immigration decree. The Salvini decrees are finally overturned and work is being done on healthy integration, respecting human rights. Security and hospitality are not incompatible but are two fundamental values to be defended”. Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri tweeted.
Italy's current centre-left coalition government had pledged on coming to power last year that it would overhaul the former minister's rules, which included fines of up to one million euros for the crew of charity ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
Charities carrying out rescues in line with maritime law and in coordination with national authorities will no longer be fined.
However any rescue ships deemed to be operating illegally can be punished with fines of between 10,000 and 50,000 euros, with the possibility of up to two years in prison for crew members.
Salvini, head of the right-wing populist League, made introducing anti-migration laws a priority when he came into government with his “Italians first” and “closed ports” messages.
“The government is opening doors and ports to illegal migrants,” Salvini tweeted, adding: “Italy deserves better”.
Protests in Rome against salvini's 2018 security decree. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
He ended Italy's two-year “humanitarian protection” residency permits, which were approved for 25 percent of asylum seekers in 2017.
Asylum was only granted to those who risked being tortured if repatriated. Protection will now be extended to those who risk being subjected to inhuman
or degrading treatment, or having their right to private and family life violated.
The new law also reintroduces the use of smaller reception and integration centres for hosting refugees, which Salvini had scrapped. They are widely thought to be more effective than the large centres now being used.
Migrants granted permits to stay will have the possibility to convert them into work permits, the prime minister's office said.
However, notably the new decree does not make allowances for second-generation migrants born in Italy, who have long campaigned for the right to apply for (or be automatically granted) Italian citizenship before they turn 18.
Italy's new security decree also provides stiffer penalties for mafia-related crime and violent crimes.
It includes tougher punishments for assault, increasing from a maximum fine of 309 euros to 2000 euros and imprisonment.
It also increases the maximum prison term for anyone found guilty of “facilitating communications with the outside world” for mafia members imprisoned under Italy's tough '41bis' regime, which completely isolates mobsters to stop them running their empires from behind bars.