With the decree passed last night, the Italian government greatly tightened the treatment of smugglers and defectors, and also simplified the procedures for the expulsion of illegal immigrants. At the same time, she announced the strengthening of legal immigration routes to Italy.
Prime Minister Girogia Meloni’s government sat in the Calabrian town of Cutro, near which at least 72 defectors died in a shipwreck on February 26.
The arrival of the government team was accompanied by protests from the locals. “Shame on you murderers,” shouted the locals at the cars that brought the prime minister and ministers to Cutra. The hurt and anger from the tragedy of almost two weeks ago has not subsided. On Saturday afternoon, trade unionists and non-government activists will hold a new protest rally there, demanding humane treatment of defectors.
The new decree by the government, apparently afraid of outrage over the unclear responsibility for the tragic outcome of the shipwreck at Cutro, therefore does not follow Meloni’s former rhetoric about maritime blockades of refugees and closing ports, but focuses on breaking up smuggling networks.
According to Justice Minister Carlo Nordia, the decree introduces up to 30 years in prison for smugglers if someone dies during a trip to Italy that they organized or led. The decree also foresees the increase of the Centers for the repatriation of defectors and the simplification of deportation procedures.
The government is also introducing a three-year plan for the legal immigration of workers in deficit professions, which Italy did not know during the period of the last governments, because according to the Prime Minister, all the gaps were filled by illegal immigrants. Preference should be given to people from countries that, in cooperation with Italy, will inform about the risks of illegal migration.
Meanwhile, more than 1,300 people disembarked on the island of Lampedusa just yesterday – mostly citizens of sub-Saharan countries who arrived by boat from Sfax, Tunisia. Since the beginning of the year, more than 15,800 refugees have disembarked in Italy, compared to 6,000 in the same period last year.