Italy will ask failed asylum seekers to pay a €5,000 deposit to avoid being thrown into detention centres while their appeal against the asylum rejection is decided.
The bond was announced in an official decree published by the country’s Interior Ministry on Friday, which came as Giorgia Meloni’s government also significantly increased the amount of time that migrants can be detained.
Asylum seekers whose bid for protection is rejected will need to stump up the €4,938 bond, which will be held for up to four weeks.
After that period, the asylum seeker will then have to prove they have “adequate accommodation” in Italy and enough money to sustain themselves and return to their country of origin if needed.
If they cannot do that, they will be held in detention for up to 18 months. Currently, applicants are free to move around the country while their appeal is considered.
Meloni’s government also announced that authorities would now be empowered to detain migrants for a maximum of 18 months, rather than the previous limit of three.
The decision prompted criticism from human rights groups, which accused the Meloni government of introducing the high fee as a way of making detention for migrants the norm.
Italy’s government also intends to more than double the number of repatriation centres in Italy, to ensure at least one in each of Italy’s 20 regions.
According to official data, Italy rejected more than 50 per cent of the roughly 50,000 asylum requests it assessed in 2022.
But authorities face a much bigger workload this year: according to the interior ministry, 132,867 migrants reached Italy by boat so far this year. By contrast, 69,498 reached the country in the same period of 2022.
The country has also been jolted by the arrival of 8,500 migrants on its island Lampedusa in the space of just a few days earlier this month. The rush of arrivals prompted an emergency visit by Meloni and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Despite von der Leyen’s visit, Italy has struggled to find solidarity among other member states to help handle the influx: France said earlier this week that it would not be taking any in, though it offered to help Italy repatriate some to select countries.
Italy does not have repatriation deals in place with many countries in Africa and repatriated