Report alleges Italian abuse of migrants to meet EU rules

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In a report by human rights watchdog Amnesty International published Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, the organization alleges that Italian police have beaten and abused migrants and unlawfully expelled some, under pressure to implement new European Union rules to process arrivals.

"I categorically deny that violent methods were used against migrants, either during their identification process or repatriation", Police Chief Franco Gabrielli said in a statement.

A 16-year-old boy also reported similar violence citing that police officials made him undress because he refused to give his fingerprints.

One of the men quoted by the report was a 27-year-old from Darfur, Sudan, who said he had been beaten and stunned by electric shocks before being forced to strip naked.

Amnesty's researcher on Italy, Matteo de Bellis, condemned the "appalling abuse" of migrants and refugees according to the BBC.

Italy, which lies on the 'frontline' of popular migration routes across the Mediterranean, has taken more than 153,000 asylum seekers this year, according to Foreign Ministry data released in late October.

"They then used a stick with electricity; they put it on my chest and gave me electricity".

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"The result is that traumatized people, arriving in Italy after harrowing journeys, are being subjected to flawed assessments and in some instances appalling abuse at the hands of the police, as well as unlawful expulsions". "They held me from shoulders and legs, took my testicles with the plier, and pulled twice", Adam said.

While the behaviour of most Italian police remains professional and the vast majority of fingerprinting takes place without incident, the findings of this report raise serious concerns and highlight the need for an independent review of current practices.

Italy adopted an approach that sought to separate asylum-seekers from economic migrants as soon as possible.

But the testimonies released on Thursday reveal that several officials, under pressure to fingerprint uncooperative asylum seekers, and to stem migration numbers, have abused people and returned them to unsafe situations without allowing them to apply for asylum. This means that people, often exhausted and traumatised from their journeys and without access to adequate information or advice on asylum procedures, have to answer questions with potentially profound implications for their futures.

Then, as he resisted fingerprinting, police officers allegedly resorted to more extreme measures. That is determined by where their prints are taken. On 24 August, 40 people identified as Sudanese nationals were put on a plane to Khartoum from Italy.

Mr de Bellis said Amnesty had sent its report to the Italian interior minister and had asked for a response to the allegations but had not received a reply.

Over the past three years more than 470,000 migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, have reached Italy by boat.