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Italy must stop summary removals to Tunisia and avert another humanitarian crisis on Lampedusa, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has written to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and the Minister of Interior Roberto Maroni, expressing profound concern over collective, summary removals of Tunisians from Lampedusa to the Tunisian capital Tunis, following the signing of an agreement between the Italian and Tunisian governments.  

Amnesty International has called on the Italian government to stop any further summary removals and make public the agreement reached by the Italian and Tunisian authorities. The Italian authorities should ensure that anyone arriving on Italian shores is adequately screened to assess any potential protection needs and is guaranteed access to fair and effective asylum procedures, said Amnesty.

In letters sent on 20 April 2011, Amnesty International urged the Italian government to put in place a clear plan to avoid any further humanitarian crisis in Lampedusa and elsewhere in Italy and ensure full respect of the human rights of those arriving. The individual needs of anyone arriving in Italy, including those landing on Lampedusa, should be promptly and adequately assessed, including through effective screening on arrival. Necessary resources to ensure access to information, for example on the right to seek asylum, should be provided promptly, and the principle of non-refoulement (not removing people to a place where they may be at risk) should be respected at all times.

The recommendations follow a recent research visit by Amnesty delegates to the island of Lampedusa and the “Village of Solidarity” in the environs of Mineo (Sicily), prompted by ongoing and widespread reports of a humanitarian crisis unfolding on Lampedusa

With regard to the centre in Mineo, to which asylum-seekers have been transferred from other locations in Italy, Amnesty International has urged the Italian authorities to establish, without delay, adequate asylum procedures.

Amnesty has also called on the Italian authorities to end immediately the transfers of any asylum-seekers from other regions of Italy who has established community ties in their present location, and/or whose claims are already being processed and/or who have already secured legal assistance. In those circumstances, transfers should only take place after the individuals concerned have given their full and informed consent.

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