Italy law cracks down on migrants

Rome passes controversial bill with measures such as fines to deter illegal immigration.

    Italy presented Libya with three patrol boats, the first of a total of six, to help intercept migrants [AFP]

    Fascist comparisons

    The bill increases the period of detention of illegal immigrants for identification from two months to six and makes anyone letting accommodation to them liable to up to three months in jail. 

    Berlusconi, who claims 76 per cent popular support for the restrictions, said: "We are closing the doors [to immigration] and we will only half open them for those who come to work and to integrate." 

    A register of homeless people will also be set up under the legislation.

    The bill will now go before Itlay's senate, where the government has a comfortable majority.

    The immigration provisions have been attacked by parties on the left, who accuse Berlusconi of harking back to the days of Benito Mussolini, the fascist dictator.

    Italian bishops have also expressed unease at the measures, which are designed to enable illegal immigrants to be brought rapidly before the courts and expelled from the country.

    Patrol boats

    Italy has rejected criticism of its operation to return to Libya would-be immigrants picked up by Italian vessels outside territorial waters to avoid the responsibility of taking them in.

    The policy has been attacked by the United Nations refugee agency, the Vatican and human rights organisations.

    Giorgio Napolitano, Italy's president, warned on Thursday against what he said is a "public rhetoric that does not hesitate to incorporate intolerant and xenophobic tones".

    Rome has long pressed Libya to better patrol its coasts to prevent the near-daily boatloads of African immigrants from setting off for Europe.

    Roberto Maroni, Italy's interior minister, who attended the handover of patrol boats in Gaeta, said: "We have the moral duty, before the right, to fight the traffic of human beings in every way in every form and with every measure."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.