Italian government announces strict new immigration rules, up to 30 years in prison for people smugglers

After the drowning deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean, Meloni’s government tightens immigration laws

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Magyar Hírlap
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at cabinet meeting in Cutro, Calabria. (Youtube)

The Italian government has decided to introduce prison sentences ranging from 20 to 30 years for traffickers who cause the deaths of migrants as a part of new regulations aimed at tackling illegal immigration.

The new law was announced at a special meeting on Thursday in Cutro, which was the scene of the Feb. 26 boat disaster in Calabria.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced the new regulations at a press conference after the cabinet meeting in the town of just over 10,000 inhabitants.

She announced that ministers had unanimously agreed to toughen penalties for traffickers by introducing a new law specifically punishing bodily harm or death to people being illegally transported.

“If anyone thinks that the tragedy of Feb. 26 has deterred the government from its migration policy, they are sadly mistaken. We are moving forward on the path we have taken, proving that we are pursuing a responsible policy and breaking the slavery operations run by criminal organizations of people smugglers,” said Meloni.

She added that her government would fight against human traffickers around the world. According to the government’s decision, people smugglers can be sentenced to five to 16 years in prison for transporting illegal migrants and will also be fined €15,000 for each migrant. If migrants suffer bodily harm on the sea or land route, traffickers risk between 10 and 20 years in prison, and if they cause the death of one person, they face a sentence of between 15 and 20 years. If more than one migrant is killed at the same time, the penalty rises to between 20 and 30 years.

The legislative package also tightens up the operation of so-called migrant camps, where people awaiting deportation are required to stay. It also regulates the number of migrants who can legally enter Italy for the next three years to work legally. An earlier plan to transfer control of maritime migration directly to the defense ministry was not accepted.

Meloni added that the government wants to reintroduce the migration-security law package, named after former interior minister Matteo Salvini, which was introduced in 2018 and then abolished by the subsequent left-wing government. The Salvini package included the closure of ports and the banning of civilian vessels.

The prime minister called it unacceptable that, according to opposition parties and foreign press, the authorities did not do everything possible to rescue the ship approaching the Calabrian coast. She noted that the patrol aircraft of the European border and coast protection agency Frontex only informed the Italian authorities when the boat carrying the migrants had already reached Italian waters.

“The ship had passed through the waters of other countries. How come they were not informed of the danger?” asked Giorgia Meloni, who called for concrete action from the European Union.

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