Saturday

19th Aug 2017

Amnesty: Italian police tortured migrants to meet EU target

  • Italy recently signed a repatriation agreement with Sudan (Photo: Ben Philabaum)

Italian police tortured asylum seekers with electric shocks and beatings, human rights group Amnesty International says.

EU pressure on Italian authorities to fingerprint every new arrival led to abuse at so-called hotspots where asylum claimants are initially identified, screened, and processed, the NGO claims in a 56-page report out on Thursday (3 November).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"EU leaders have driven the Italian authorities to the limits - and beyond - of what is legal," said Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International's researcher on Italy, in a statement.

Italy has four hotspots, staffed, in part, by officials from the EU's border agency Frontex and the European asylum support agency Easo.

People refusing fingerprinting can have them taken by force following EU commission rules in 2014 that called for a “proportionate use of coercion”. Last year, it threatened Rome with court action unless everyone was fingerprinted.

Those fingerprints are entered into Eurodac, an EU-level database used to identify asylum seekers, which helps determine the country responsible for processing their claims under the EU’s so-called Dublin rules on asylum.

Some Italian police officers, according to Amnesty, have resorted to beatings, sexual humiliation, and electric shocks to meet the 100 percent fingerprint target.

Of the 24 testimonies collected by the NGO, 16 involved beatings.

One 16-year old boy from Sudan said police had shocked him with stun batons.

"They gave me electricity with a stick, many times on the left leg, then on right leg, chest and belly. I was too weak, I couldn’t resist and at that point they took both my hands and put them on the machine," he said.

Another 27-year-old told the NGO that police in Sicily forced him to undress and sit on an aluminium chair.

"They held my shoulders and legs, took my testicles with pliers, and pulled twice. I can't say how painful it was," he said.

A 25-year-old woman from Eritrea said she was slapped repeatedly until she agreed to give her fingerprints.

Many others said they were sexually humiliated or beaten with sticks.

Unlawful returns to Sudan

Another 40 people from Sudan were also allegedly returned illegally in late August under a collective expulsion order without proper assessment of their asylum claims.

The order was part of a new bilateral arrangement on rapid repatriation, made public by Italian MPs last month, between Rome and Khartoum.

It includes provisions that allows the identification of people, who have not requested asylum, to take place in Sudan.

Amnesty says the deal may also lead to abuse.

One person from Sudan told the NGO that he had been arrested by Italian police. He then told a judge he didn't want to return to Sudan when asked his intentions.

"The judge asked me to tell the lawyer what I wanted, and I told the Egyptian translator that I didn’t want to go back to Sudan, as I am from Darfur. The judge said that I should go back to my country. It was very quick, I think they just wanted to deport us," he said.

Italy's new bilateral deal is also providing police inside Sudan - a state whose president is a wanted war criminal - with equipment and training.

EU washes hands of alleged migrant abuse

EU commission denied allegations of torture at Italian migrant hotspots, but said authorities can physically force people to be fingerprinted.

Opinion

EU migration policy is cruel and nonsensical

The EU is signing deals with rights-violating states who agree to take back migrants, which will aggravate poverty and conflict and undermine the bloc's strategic goals.

NGOs divided by Italy's new rescue code

Five charities have refused to sign up to Italy's EU-backed code of conduct for NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean sea, saying the new rules put lives at risk.

News in Brief

  1. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  2. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  3. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  4. European Union returns to 2 percent growth
  5. Russian power most feared in Europe
  6. Ireland continues to refuse €13 billion in back taxes from Apple
  7. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  8. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  2. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  3. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  5. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  7. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  8. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  9. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  10. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  11. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  12. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides