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Italy: Parliament's ratification of dangerous automatic detention deal with Albania 'shameful'

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The agreement will see people taken hundreds of miles by sea to Albania to face arbitrary detention

Under international law, automatic detention is inherently arbitrary and therefore unlawful’ - Matteo De Bellis

In response to the Italian Senate’s decision to ratify an agreement on detaining people rescued at sea by Italian ships in two detention centres in Albania, Matteo De Bellis, Amnesty International’s Migration and Asylum Researcher, said:

“The Italian Parliament has just given the green light to an arbitrary detention deal that will harm thousands of people who would be taken to Albania and automatically detained following their rescue at sea.

“Individuals disembarked in Albania and brought to the centres there, including refugees and people seeking asylum, would be automatically detained and unable to leave the centres for up to 18 months. Under international law, automatic detention is inherently arbitrary and therefore unlawful.

“Under the agreement, people would be kept on boats for days longer than needed while being transported to Albania. This dangerous distortion of search and rescue rules might put lives at risk, and would affect people already in a vulnerable condition given the circumstances of their journeys, marking a shameful chapter for Italy.

“It is high time that European institutions recognise that the Italy-Albania agreement would create an unlawful and harmful system, which must be stopped. Instead of increasing people’s suffering, the authorities should ensure access to an effective asylum procedure, adequate reception, and safe, regular routes.”

Detention centres agreement

On 6 November 2023, the Italian government signed an agreement with Albania on the construction of two detention centres in Albania that will be used to arbitrarily detain people rescued or intercepted at sea by Italian state ships.

The agreement seeks to legalise the automatic detention of people seeking asylum and for people to be forcibly repatriated, with the declared goal of deterring sea crossings. 

On 24 January, the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved the ratification of the agreement, which then passed to the Senate. On 29 January, the Constitutional Court in Albania gave the green light for the Albanian Parliament to ratify the agreement.

Amnesty previously released a detailed analysis of the human rights impacts of the agreement.

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