On Thursday, Italian lawmakers sanctioned a government decree permitting the placement of teenage migrants, aged 16 or 17, in adult reception centres, while also granting enhanced powers to the police to verify the accuracy of migrants’ claimed ages.
Existing Italian and European legislation accords unaccompanied young migrants more favourable treatment, safeguarding them from expulsion and entitling them to broader welfare and support services.
The decree, part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government response to escalating sea immigration, successfully completed its parliamentary approval process. The Senate endorsed it with a vote of 97 to 65, with one abstention.
This legislation allows minors aged 16 or 17 to be accommodated in adult migrant reception camps when spaces for underage migrants are unavailable, with a permissible stay of up to 150 days. According to Italian law, individuals attain adulthood at the age of 18.
During peak immigration periods, the decree permits adult migrant centres to host twice their normal capacity and authorises the use of X-rays by the police to estimate the age of young migrants, facilitating the expulsion of those found to have provided false information.
Expressing concerns about potential violations of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, unicef, the U.N. agency for children, conveyed a paper to the Italian parliament, suggesting that the decree could compromise the fundamental rights of minors.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Meloni announced plans to construct migrant identification and reception centres in Albania, with the aspiration to accommodate up to 36,000 sea migrants annually.
Official data indicates around 152,000 migrants have arrived in Italy this year, a substantial increase from the 94,000 recorded during the same period in 2022. Notably, approximately 11% of this year’s arrivals comprised unaccompanied minors.