Italy: migrant detention conditions spark outrage Italy: migrant detention conditions spark outrage

Italy: migrant detention conditions spark outrage

Italy: migrant detention conditions spark outrage

Pressure is mounting on Italian authorities to close the migrant detention center at Ponte Galeria, near Rome where a 19-year-old Guinean allegedly hanged himself last month.

The country's ten migrant repatriation centers have long been targets of criticism from human rights groups.

They denounce the human rights violations that take place in these establishments, undocumented immigrants are essentially detained there for months without charge in conditions worse than those in prisons.


"This CPR (migrant detention center), like all CPRs, is a terrible place. We only have to enter there and look with our eyes to explain the last six suicide attempts in six days. These people are ready to risking their lives to escape from these 'lager' (a reference to the Nazi concentration camps)," lamented Ilaria Cucchi, Italian senator from the Italian Left opposition party. 

"This place is worse than a penitentiary. The rooms where they live are absolutely impossible to monitor, the toilets are below any human standard. In this place, people do nothing with their days, there is no no work, no training, no education, something that is normally provided in all our penitentiaries. People are kept here without any hope." denounced Ivan Scalfarotto, Italian senator from the opposition party Italy Alive. 

The centers are meant to be places of temporary detention for migrants whose asylum applications have failed or for foreigners who have been deported for criminal or other reasons, while waiting for the administrative formalities to be completed to return them to their countries original.

But due to bureaucratic delays and the absence of repatriation agreements with countries of origin, only about half of detainees are actually returned home.

**The government increased the length of migrant detention to 18 months as part of a deterrence strategy aimed at persuading potential refugees and their traffickers to stay at home.
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"The CPRs were created a long time ago, but the new laws (approved by the Meloni government) extend detention up to 18 months, this is something outrageous. We have said it many times, but no one listened to us. But it is a fight that we must lead because it is something unworthy of a civilized and democratic country." The death of a young Guinean highlights living conditions in Italy's migrant detention centers,” said Walter Verini, an opposition senator from the Democratic Party. 

**Last month, Ousmane Sylla's body was found in the center after he apparently hanged himself. He had been expelled from the country, but Italy has not concluded a repatriation agreement with Guinea, his country of origin. After the discovery of his body, detainees set fire to mattresses and threw objects at the police, leading to 14 arrests. 

This week, three opposition senators visited the center and came away shocked by what they saw.

On Friday, the Radicali Roma association, affiliated with the Italian Radical Party, launched an online petition asking center-left Mayor Roberto Gualtieri to close the Ponte Galeria center.

At a recent press conference, he said that 50% of detainees had been repatriated, that the number of repatriations had increased by 20 to 30% since the beginning of the year compared to the previous year and that he expected the numbers to rise.

But the actual number of repatriations is one of the lowest in Europe, with an average of 3,000 people returned each year out of more than 150,000 arrivals in 2023 and more than 105,000 in 2022.

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