ITALY: UN Special Rapporteurs send letter of concern over the criminalization of activities of migrants rights defenders

On 12 November 2018, a group of UN Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Italian government over concerns of violations of migrants’ rights as well as the criminalisation of solidarity.

They wrote:

In view of the allegations highlighted in the present letter, we continue to express concern about the violations of the human rights of migrants traveling along the Central Mediterranean route, as well as about violations of the rights of human rights defenders protecting and defending the human rights of migrants, including by rescuing them at sea. A further matter of concern is the impact on the human rights of migrants of the implementation of the Decree on Immigration and Security (Decreto Immigrazione e Sicurezza). […]


We are concerned at reports alleging multiple attacks, including judicial proceedings and defamation campaigns, implemented by the authorities against migrant rights defenders, including journalists, individuals criticizing the Government for its management of migrant arrivals and civil society actors engaging in rescue operations at sea and providing life-saving humanitarian assistance on land. We are additionally concerned that these measures allegedly intend to circumscribe the activities and dissuade civil society, journalists and individual human rights defenders from carrying out their legitimate and necessary activities to provide humanitarian aid to migrants. We are deeply concerned with the “chilling effect” these attacks and measures could have on migrant rights defenders and on civil society in general. Ongoing attempts to restrict SAR operations by NGOs risk endangering thousands of lives by limiting rescue vessels from accessing the perilous waters near Libya. Smear campaigns against migrant rights defenders and NGOs as well as their criminalization further contribute to the stigmatisation of migrants and refugees, fuelling their stigmatization and reinforcing xenophobia in Italy (see also JAL ITA 4/2018).

To date, the letter remains unanswered.

Read the full letter here