A setback for Meloni’s controversial decree
An Italian court releases 5 Tunisian immigrants and exempts them from paying a fine

A judge in the Catania court released six Tunisian immigrants who were detained under a new, controversial Italian decree, in a deportation center in Sicily, after they were unable to pay the required fine, noting that the decree violated European law.

Media reported that the decree of the far-right Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, regarding the detention of migrants, suffered a setback, after a judge in the Court of Catania, in Sicily, indicated on Sunday, October 8, that the detention of six Tunisian migrants in a center designated pursuant to a decree adopted by the government on September 21 is illegal.

The “controversial” text of the decree makes migrants whose asylum applications were rejected while they are in the process of appeal pay about 5,000 euros, to cover housing and living costs for one month, in addition to the costs of their return to their country if their asylum applications are ultimately rejected. Otherwise, they will be transferred to a designated deportation center for the period of consideration of the appeal.

The decree covers immigrants who tried to escape the border police, and those coming from countries that Italy classifies as “safe.” The government had established a “rapid” center for the deportation of migrants, in Pozzallo, Sicily, to implement its project, and it is intended in particular for migrants from Tunisia and Egypt, the two countries that concluded agreements with Italy to facilitate the return of migrants.

Italy considers Tunisia a “safe country,” and thus refrains from granting Tunisians asylum or international protection.

But Catania Court Judge Rosario Cupri found the new decree unconstitutional and in violation of European law, adding that Tunisia is an “unsafe country,” so detaining migrants in the designated center is illegal.

The judge recalled the ruling of the European Court of Justice, which considered “the detention of an applicant for international protection… a coercive measure that deprives the applicant of his freedom of movement,” and forces him to remain within a limited and restricted area.

The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, had confirmed that the decision could not be implemented, because it conflicted with European Union law, noting that there was a precedent when the European Court of Justice issued a decision condemning Hungary during the era of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for issuing a similar decision.

While the left-wing newspaper La Repubblica described this “financial guarantee,” worth 4,938 euros, as a “ransom.”

The Italian decree came a few days after the far-right government of Georgia Meloni announced its intention to increase the maximum period of detention for migrants whose asylum applications have been rejected, to 18 months, compared to the 40 renewable days currently in effect, which may reach a maximum of 138 days.

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