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A migrant boat arriving on the island of Lampedusa
© Flickr /Sara Prestianni

United Nations: the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants concluded his visit to Italy

From 2 to 5 December 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, conducted a follow -up official visit to Italy in order to assess new developments since his first country visit in 2012 and the initiatives taken by the Italian Government in response to his recommendations.

During the mission to Italy, the UN Special Rapporteur met with a range of Government officials, members of international organisations, representatives of civil society organisations, migrants and journalists, to discuss the complex management of the common European border in Italy. In the Euro-Mediterranean region, Italy’s long coastline continues to be a key point of entry for many migrants seeking to reach Europe. According to Mr. Crépeau, the increasing number of migrants and asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean Sea in the last few months has resulted in a global humanitarian crisis which must have a global humanitarian response, that is a new and concerted strategic approach by European States and the international community.

At the end of the mission, the Special Rapporteur praised the country’s extraordinary efforts through its Mare Nostrum operation and he urged the European Union and the international community to consider immediate options, such as supporting Italy in a robust search and rescue operations, providing a significant resettlement programme for refugees.

However, the Special Rapporteur noticed that Italy’s migration policies continue to have human rights protection gaps. In particular, Mr Crépeau reported that Italy must still make progress in a number of areas: refrain from pushbacks; ensure that adequate individual assessments are carried out upon arrival at the Italian reception centres, in order to identify particular vulnerabilities and support needs; as well as continue to reduce unnecessary detention, in particular through the adoption of alternatives to detention. Finally, the Rapporteur urged the Italian Government to provide increased protection to vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied minors through improved best interest of the child determination procedures, and facilitate access to justice, by simplifying judicial procedures and providing low-cost quality legal representation to migrants for all the procedures they need to go through.

A follow-up country mission report and a thematic report on EU border management will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2015.