Report. The first change on which there was unanimous consensus concerns the decision to separate the issue of immigration from the more general one of security.

Italian government clears first hurdle toward repealing the security degree

The journey is only just beginning, and it will probably take some more time, but, after months of waiting and postponement, the process of revising Salvini’s security decrees seems to have finally started. 

A three-hour summit at the Palazzo Chigi was the start of the debate between the forces of the majority, which managed to reach an unexpected convergence of opinions, so much so that even the Five Star Movement, which had always been the most reluctant to change the Salvinian measures it had voted for as part of the previous Conte government, showed itself willing to approve more profound changes, at least on some points. 

Only the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Vito Crimi, showed resistance: “Be careful not to change everything and make the same mistakes of the past again,” he told everyone else before leaving the meeting. The first change on which there was unanimous consensus concerns the decision to separate the issue of immigration from the more general one of security.

Those attending the meeting, in addition to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, also included Deputy Ministers of Interior Crimi and Matteo Mauri, the Minister of Defence, Lorenzo Guerini, the Undersecretary to the Prime Minister, Riccardo Fraccaro, and the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, Manlio Di Stefano. Also present were Loredana De Petris and Nicola Fratoianni from LeU, the President of the Constitutional Affairs Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, Giuseppe Brescia (M5S), Roberta Pinotti (PD) and Laura Garavini and Gennaro Migliore from Italia Viva.

The draft amendments prepared by the Interior Minister were apparently not specifically discussed, but the basis for an agreement was reached. First of all, the participants agreed on the abolition of the massive fines—of up to €1 million—for the NGO ships (one of the recommendations made at the time by President of the Republic Mattarella), which, in Lamorgese’s proposal, should return to their previous levels of between €10,000 and €50,000. 

Furthermore, NGO vessels will no longer be seized if they violate the ban on entry into territorial waters (a measure never taken so far by Minister Lamorgese), but only in case of a further violation. However, the reduction of the fines didn’t satisfy the LeU, PD and Italia Viva who would have preferred to eliminate them completely, because, as they explained once again, “those who save lives cannot be punished.”

Another point on which agreement was found was the widening of the scope of humanitarian protection, repealed with the first security decree, but which is set to be restored for new categories of vulnerable migrants. There are five categories which will be included: families with minor children, seriously ill people, those with mental disorders, the disabled and pregnant women. Furthermore, as requested by many municipalities, a migrant will once again need nothing more than an asylum application in order to be able to register as a resident with the local municipality.

The final point, also highlighted by Mattarella in his letter to Parliament, concerns the crime of contempt of public officials. The Salvini decree eliminated the discretion afforded to judges by extending the crime to all public officials, from a police officer maintaining order at a demonstration to a post office employee. The amendment should once again leave the task of assessing the particular gravity of the offense up to the judges, also allowing them to deem it an offense only if it was committed against a member of the police forces.

Furthermore, there might also be news with regard to the SPRAR (System for the Protection of Asylum seekers and Refugees) system, which saw major cuts as a direct result of the first security decree. The M5S’s Giuseppe Brescia asked for the repeal of the changes and for the system to be restored to its original condition.

“There will be another meeting, and then the minister will produce the text,” said Mauri at the end of the summit. The reaction of Matteo Salvini to the news of a likely revision of his decrees was all too predictable: “Repealing the security decrees means helping the mafia and drug dealers,” claimed the leader of the Lega. These words brought a strong reaction from Nicola Fratoianni: “Salvini is simply in delirium,” said the Sinistra Italiana deputy. “His decrees have caused insecurity and disappointment throughout the country.”

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