12th March- 27th April 2020 

 

Information provided by Paola Petrucco, Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti Civili, CILD)

1. How many people are currently detained in the center and what is the centre’s maximum capacity?

According to unofficial sources, as of 25 April, the center is holding 30 people, among which at least 3 women. Its maximum capacity is of 210 (125 men and 85 women). 

2. Are people still entering this detention centre? If so, what are the measures taken to prevent contagion and safeguard their right to health?

Since mid-March, no new entries have been registered in the center. Nevertheless, in line with the circular note of the Minister of the Interior of 26 March, the CPR manager has set up a quarantine ward for incomers’ isolation period.

3. Have detainees been released from this centre due to COVID-19? If yes, which groups?

The Ponte Galeria CPR is the center which has registered the highest number of releases. According to available data, 12 people were released on 27 March, and two others three days later. An unofficial source reports that there has been a 2-people-per-day release average over the past month; most have been asylum seekers. Upon release, the CPR manager has instructed to conduct medical screenings and ensure the availability of outside accommodation. As stated by the National Guarantor, “released persons are also provided with PPE [personal protective equipment], as well as the health services card for “Foreign Nationals’ Temporary Stay (STP)”.

4. What information has been provided to detainees in this centre, in which language(s) and through what means?

Differently from what occurred in other centres, detainees were provided with information early on. On 20 March, the CPR’s director, Enzo Lattuca, explained that they were using signs translated in several languages to communicate the necessity of taking precautions. By 21 April, it appears that the information provided also includes updates on the health emergency and more specific instructions on appropriate precautionary behaviour.

5. What healthcare measures have been taken in response to the virus? Has the number of health workers working inside the center increased?

No indication is available regarding whether and what medical support was provided upon the outbreak of the epidemic - it seems that there was no clear protocol to follow. According to National Guarantor, however, “CPRs have established a thorough screening procedure and detainees’ health conditions [are] being checked on a regular basis regardless of the specific symptomatology”. Medical isolation rooms have also been set up.

6. What hygiene measures have been taken in response to the virus?

On 20 March, a detainee denounced the lack of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, disinfectant). One month after, the National Guarantor’s reports that “almost all the CPRs’ managers declared that they had regularly carried out disinfections to ensure the premises’ hygienic conditions. They all reported having increased the number of personal hygiene kits for all persons detained and making protective masks available to them at release. In addition, they have informed in multiple languages all detainees about the health emergency and instructed hosts on how to behave to prevent the spread of the virus”. On 27 April, however, Alda Re of the LasciateCIEntare campaign contradicted these statements. She claimed that: “personal protective equipment have never been provided, even though we are aware that the State has granted specific fundings for these centres to make up for equipment deficiencies, we are also sure that the areas have never been sanitised”.

7. What measures have been taken to comply with necessary social distancing requirements?

At the start of the health emergency, social spacing was one of the main issues of the center. People were sleeping in rooms of 6 or 4, they were eating all together, they were using the same bathrooms – the 1-meter distance was impossible to respect. A woman affirmed that she stopped eating due to the fear of contracting the virus in the cafeteria. At present, following the decrease in the number of detained foreign nationals, the compliance with social distancing requirements should have improved.

8. What measures have been taken to ensure that detainees continue to maintain contact with their family and friends in such a difficult time?

Contacts with family and friends has been a rather delicate matter in all the CPRs. Contrary to what occurred in prisons and despite visiting restrictions, the use of mobile phones in immigration removal centres was dramatically limited. While updates on the phone-situation in other centres have been provided, not much has been said on the matter from this one.

9. Are NGOs, monitors and/or volunteers continuing to enter in detention and meet detainees? If yes, what measures have been put in place to ensure their health protection? If no, what measures have been put in place to ensure that detainees continue to receive the kind of support they used to receive from these groups?

To avoid having too many people in the centres, the activities of NGOs, volunteers and supporting associations (e.g. the anti-trafficking cooperative) were suspended. No details were provided on if and how detainees continue receiving support from these groups.

10. What measures have been taken to protect vulnerable groups (e.g., victims of gender violence and torture; people facing mental health challenges)?

There is not data regarding measures taken to protect vulnerable groups; what is known is that the majority of the detained women have been released.

11. What measures have been taken to protect staff working with detainees? Has there been an increase or decrease in the number of staff since the COVID-19 crisis started?

On 18 March, 20 March and 1 April, it was reported the centre’s staff lacked adequate personal protection equipment, most notably gloves and masks. In accordance with the National Guarantor’s Bulletin N. 26, it can be assumed that they were eventually provided with appropriate hygiene and protection equipment. Furthermore, the considerable decrease of detainees has most probably led to a slight decrease in the number of staff.

12. What kind of legal measures are individuals and/or organisations pursuing in response to COVID?

Since early March, there has been a wide mobilisation of the civil society  all over the country. Both jointly and individually organisations have pursued several actions - these include:

In this framework, legal measures have been based on the of illegitimacy and unreasonableness of immigration detention in the current national and international contexts. Requests to stop entries in CPRs emerged right at the start of the health emergency. Appeals have been submitted to Courts’ specialised departments and Justices of the Peace asking them not confirm nor extend detention orders, as well as to local bar associations urging them to monitor detention hearings and provide public defenders with all the information. Core arguments have been: the impossibility to comply with the measures foreseen to guarantee individuals’ health; the lack of real possibilities of effective repatriation; the suspension of hearings; and the availability of accommodation outside detention. On top of that, calls have been launched to ensure adequate reception protocols, and guarantee detainees’ relations with the outside world.

 

28th April- 8th June 2020

 

Information provided by Paola Petrucco, Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties and Rights (Coalizione Italiana per le Libertà e i Diritti Civili, CILD)

1. How many people are currently detained in the centre and what is the centre’s maximum capacity?

The Regional Guarantor of Lazio, Prof. Stefano Anastasia, reports that as of 08 June there are 11 people (6 men and 5 women) detained in the centre. The latter’s current maximum capacity is 210 places, 130 men and 80 women. 

2. Are people still entering this detention centre? If so, what are the measures taken to prevent contagion and safeguard their right to health?

Since the start of the lockdown entries in the centre have basically stopped. Guarantor Anastasia, informs us that the CPR Manager has set up a quarantine area, as per the Ministerial Circular of 26 March, which allows for the isolation of only one person at a time. This means that only every 15 days a new person can be brought in the centre. 

3. Have detainees been released from this centre due to COVID-19? If yes, which groups?

The Ponte Galeria CPR is the centre which has registered the highest releases to entries ratio. Since the start of the epidemic in March, the centre’s detained population has gone from ca 140 to 14 detainees. The Regional Guarantor explains that this is because, for the past 2 months, there has only been 1 entry every 15 days, while releases have been more frequent and numerous.  Upon release, migrants are provided with personal protective equipment and the “Foreign Nationals’ Temporary Stay” card to access national health services. 

4. What information has been provided to detainees in this centre, in which language(s) and through what means?

According to Lazio’s Guarantor, the centre’s Manager has delivered, in several languages, updates on the health emergency and instructions on the appropriate precautionary behaviour to take to prevent the spread of the virus.

5. What healthcare measures have been taken in response to the virus? Has the number of health workers working inside the centre increased?

On 05 May, the Regional Guarantor affirmed there is only one medical isolation room and, as mentioned above, it has been envisaged for those entering the centre. It appears that, in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the CPR, infected detainees would have to go through outside healthcare facilities. 

6. What hygiene measures have been taken in response to the virus?

The Regional Guarantor’s report indicates that extra sanitising activities have been carried out regularly to guarantee healthy environments; the supply of personal hygiene and cleaning kits for detainees has been increased; and detainees have been provided with protective masks to wear when they leave the detention areas.  

7. What measures have been taken to comply with necessary social distancing requirements?

Given the significant decrease in the number of detainees, social distancing in the centre has been facilitated.     

8. What measures have been taken to ensure that detainees continue to maintain contact with their family and friends in such a difficult time?

Guarantor Anastasia reports that different measures have been taken in the female and male sections of the centre to ensure that detainees continue to maintain contact with family and friends. On the one hand, female detainees have been allowed to use personal cell-phones without a camera or internet access. On the other hand, male detainees have been only allowed to use the facility’s public phones. 

9. Are NGOs, monitors and/or volunteers continuing to enter in detention and meet detainees? If yes, what measures have been put in place to ensure their health protection? If no, what measures have been put in place to ensure that detainees continue to receive the kind of support they used to receive from these groups?

To best of the Regional Guarantor’s knowledge, no “external” person has access to the centre. No further information has been disclosed on the matter.  

10. What measures have been taken to protect vulnerable groups (e.g., victims of gender violence and torture; people facing mental health challenges)?

As stated by Guarantor Stefano Anastasia, no specific measure has been adopted to protect vulnerable individuals.

11. What measures have been taken to protect staff working with detainees? Has there been an increase or decrease in the number of staff since the COVID-19 crisis started?

The Regional Guarantor indicates that the CPR’s staff has been provided with regular information about the epidemic and with appropriate personal protective equipment. 

12. What kind of legal measures are individuals and/or organisations pursuing in response to COVID?

Since early March, there has been a wide mobilisation of the civil society all over the country. Both jointly and individually organisations have pursued several actions, which include:

In addition, appeals have been submitted to Courts’ specialised departments and Justices of the Peace asking them not confirm nor extend detention orders, local bar associations urging them to monitor detention hearings and provide public defenders with all necessary information, and CPR managers requesting them to allow detainees’ access to of cell-phones. Core arguments of these (and other) actions have been the illegitimacy and unreasonableness of immigration detention in the current national and international contexts; the impossibility to comply with the contagion prevention measures (e.g. social distancing) in these centres; and the necessity to guarantee detainees’ right to respect for private and family life.