ROME, FEBRUARY 10 – The Italian government on Friday approved measures aimed at streamlining the decision process for asylum requests, as well as speeding up repatriations of those whose bids have been denied. Speaking after a Cabinet meeting that focused on giving authorities a better grip on the migrant crisis, Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni said he called for changes so that migrants “arrive in our country in a safe way and in controlled numbers,” instead of risking their lives at risk under the control of human smugglers and traffickers.
Most recent arrivals are economic migrants from Africa unlikely to be granted asylum. Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said special sections in courthouses will be set up with judges handling only asylum cases. Complications in law enforcement and cities struggling with the logistics of handling so many migrants often mean delays for those requesting refuge from war, persecution or other grounds eligible for asylum, he said.
The time to complete the asylum request process, which can involve two levels of appeals in Italy, averages two years, “which is too long”, said Interior Minister Marco Minniti, stressing that Italy is now adding 250 specialists to asylum commissions to “drastically knock down” wait times for a final decision. Minniti would make ”reception mechanisms more transparent, facilitating in various ways the mechanisms necessary for repatriation”, Gentiloni said.
The measures also include socially useful unpaid work for asylum seekers and incentives for the communities that take them in.
”The strategic objective,” Gentiloni continued, ”is not to close our doors but to transform migration flows ever more from an irregular phenomenon into a regular one in which life is not at risk and migrants arrive in a safe, controlled manner.”
Minniti underscored that Friday’s decree goes toward ”a new reception model” in the country, thanks to an agreement with the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) and a progressive decrease in large reception centers.