Sunday

22nd Oct 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 for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

EU seeks to shut down Libya sea route

EU leaders are aiming to reach a consensus on the Dublin asylum reforms by early next year, announced European Council chief Donald Tusk. But first, they want to shut down the Central Mediterranean route from Libya.

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

MEPs: EU migrant quotas do have a future

The EU Parliament's lead negotiator on the Dublin rule, a key asylum regulation that has sparked a political clash among EU states, is now demanding for an automatic and permanent relocation scheme.

News in Brief

  1. Rajoy to trigger Article 155 on Saturday in Catalan crisis
  2. EU conducts unannounced inspection of German car firm
  3. Lithuania calls for new EU energy laws
  4. EU leaders aim for December for defence cooperation
  5. Juncker says hands tied on Russia pipeline
  6. Czechs set to elect billionaire Andrej Babis
  7. Italian regions hold referendums on more autonomy
  8. EU leaders refuse to mediate Catalonia conflict

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  3. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  4. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  6. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  8. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  10. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  11. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  12. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!

Latest News

  1. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals
  2. Mogherini urged to do more on Russian propaganda
  3. Turkey funding cuts signal EU mood shift
  4. Posted workers top EU agenda This Week
  5. Leaders lobby to host EU agencies at summit's margins
  6. Legal tweak could extend EU control on Russia pipeline
  7. Ukraine language law does not harm minorities
  8. EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks