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Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

Legislation Impacting Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Radicalisation Efforts

The “Bossi-Fini Law”, introduced in 2002, reduced the duration of a standard work permit from 4 to 2 years, increased the period of time citizens of non-EU countries need to live in Italy before being able to apply for permanent residence from 5 to 6 yearsimplemented immediate deportation of illegal immigrants system; and, finally, cancelled the possibility for immigrants to reunite with their non-direct family members.

Refugees in Italy have a right to employment, as well as free access to the state healthcare and education systems. After five years of permanent residence and employment in Italy they have the right to apply for Italian citizenship.

In July 2012, Italy adopted a Resolution N109, known as Rozarno Law, which introduced protection for migrant victims of exploitation. Law punishes exploitation of migrants, deprivation of government and EU subsidies and deprivation of licenses. Victims who cooperate with authorities during the trial can be provided with citizenship on humanitarian basis.

It is also worth noting the Decree of the Prime Minister adopted on April 2, 2015, which reduces the annual quota of legal labour migrants from 15 to 13 thousand. In addition, migrants from non-EU countries, according to this resolution, can obtain a work permit for not more than two years.

Nevertheless, the 2006 amendments to the Criminal Code (Law No.85/2006) reduced the standard prison sentence for hate crime from three to one and a half years and established that fine for discrimination and inciting racial hatred cannot exceed 6,000 Euro, which is considered a major setback for the development of proper discrimination preventing law enforcement practices.

Moreover, people found guilty of the aforementioned crimes are only considered criminally liable in cases when crimes were committed in an attempt to influence a large group of people, thus “changing their behavioural patterns”. These amendments have indirectly improved the position of neo-Nazis and nationalist far-right politicians who spread anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric.

There is no protection against LGBT discrimination in public places, in the provision of goods and services, as well as in the form of incitement of hatred. Gender identity is also not included in the official anti-discrimination legislation.

It is possible ti say that Italy has today the most liberal anti-racist legislation in Europe. The country has not acceded to Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. It is extremely difficult to accuse people for the "language of enmity" by proving the intention to "change the behavior of a wide audience". Thus, the attention of the Italian authorities to the spread of hate on the Internet has not been transformed into legal persecution of extremists.

In 2018, Matteo Salvini (Lega), Minister of the Interior, drafted a bill on 'security and immigration' that de facto severely punishes migrants and foreigners living in Italy. The same 'Legge-Salvini' (Salvini's Law), underwent further changes later that same year, 2018, introducing additional harshness on the issue of migration to Italy. Changes in government (Salvini resigned in August 2019), put Salvini's Law before a parliamentary commission led by new Interior Minister Luciana Lamorghese.

On October 5 and 6, 2020, a new law on migration, the so-called NADEF , was passed, making significant amendments to the "Salvini Laws," although some of the previous laws were retained, as some critics noted.The most significant changes relate to two aspects of the previous regulations on migration. The first aspect relates to international protection, and the second to rescue at sea. Regarding the first aspect, the new regulation introduces a norm that states that it is prohibited to expel or deny asylum to any person whose deportation back to the port of origin would entail a high risk of inhuman and degrading treatment or infringement on the life of his family and individual. This is an important step forward, given that Salvini's previous law considered withholding removal and deportation from the country only if there was a proven risk of torture to the subject.

The new Immigration law also provides that all those visas previously negotiated for religious reasons, for special protection, to acquire citizenship, for sports or the arts, or to assist juvenile subjects may be converted into work visas.

A new Reception and Integration system was created, to be organized on two levels: 1) the first level for those who apply for international patronage; 2) the second level, intended for those who are already holders of a legal visa, but with further integration services. In fact, as already mentioned, immigration centers have reappeared in Italy, now called SIPROIMI ex SPRAR. This time, however, SIPROIMI became de facto new structures known as SISTEMA DI ACCOGLIENZA E INTEGRAZIONE (System of Reception and Integration).

The last point in the new immigration decree concerns the methods of punishing those who bring immigrants and asylum seekers into the country illegally. The new law introduced fines ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 euros and two years in prison for such activities. This change primarily affects NGOs, which rescue many immigrants fleeing Africa at sea, because it is not always possible to be rescued on Italian ships.

Data from a 2020 IDOS report shows that nearly 70'000 migrants entered Italy, in addition to those already in state immigration centers by then. They were 84,445 in June 2019. It should be noted, however, that despite the lower number of legal immigrants arriving, the number of illegal immigrants within the country continued to grow. According to official immigration data, the number of illegal immigrants in Italy was 562,000 at the end of 2018, and in the next two years (2019-2020), also thanks to the Salvini law, the number of illegal immigrants increased by 120,000-140,000, reaching 610,000 at the end of 2019. The IDOS report mentioned above also reports that the number of illegal or illegal immigrants could reach 700,000 by the end of 2020 (June). The report also reports that an amnesty for 220,500 foreign workers was announced in the summer of 2020 in order to legalize the presence of immigrants on Italian territory, most of whom are employed in the domestic sector. However, only a small number of black market workers in the agricultural sector have actually been legalized.

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