Evaluation of the Committee of Ministers: Italy's Failure to Implement the ECHR Judgment on the Lampedusa Hotspot


In an important decision published on the 13th of June 2024, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe assessed that Italy had failed to adequately implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights J.A. and others v. Italy (Appeal No. 21329/18) regarding the detention and conditions inside the Hotspot of Lampedusa and called on the authorities to take the necessary measures for its implementation.

Hotspot of Lampedusa
Hotspot of Lampedusa

In that judgment, dated 2023, Italy had been condemned for the unlawful confinement and inadequate conditions in which foreign citizens (including minors) were held inside the Lampedusa hotspot  and for the failure to comply with the procedural rules against collective expulsions (with reference to facts at the end of 2018). The government submitted an Action Plan on the 27th of March 2024, claiming that the Lampedusa hotspot is not a place of detention and asserting that necessary measures have been put in place to end the violations observed.

ASGI and Maldusa intervened in the procedure in front of the Committee of Ministers with the memorandum in which various profiles were raised, among which it was also pointed out that since the time of the facts, at the end of 2018, the factual context has changed a lot and Lampedusa has modified its image: with the aim of displacing on a wider territory all the critical issues that for years had been identified in the island's hotspot, in correspondence with the numerous hotspot structures that have been built on the mainland.

Through the submission of statements that were promptly acknowledged by the Committee, the two Associations reported how hotspots continue to be systematically used as places of informal detention for foreign people even if only while waiting for indications on final destination. These structures are often overcrowded, with promiscuous conditions, and the access to legal information is very limited.

In its decision, the Committee, after having "noted with satisfaction the measures taken by the Italian authorities to improve reception conditions at the Lampedusa hotspot and the progress made", nevertheless validated the information from civil society. It therefore noted, also with regard to the persistent deficiencies in the provision of essential services, that it is not possible "to fully assess the impact of the measures taken and the need for further corrective actions" and "therefore invited the authorities to provide their evaluation, information and statistics as indicated in the analysis prepared by the Secretariat regarding the Lampedusa hotspot, as well as information on the corrective actions taken or planned to improve material conditions in the Taranto hotspot and the current situation in the other hotspots in Italy".

Furthermore, the Committee "noted with concern the information indicating the continued unlawful deprivation of liberty in these centers, also regarding unaccompanied minors; noted with disappointment that the authorities have not provided any information on this issue and has invited them to provide their assessment and comprehensive information on the current function of the hotspots, the applicable legal requirements and safeguards for the detention of adult migrants in these centers, as well as examples of relevant administrative and judicial decisions".

In particular, the Committee "requested the authorities to ensure that the national legal framework prohibiting the detention of unaccompanied minors is effectively applied in practice and to inform the Committee of the measures taken and their impact; it reminded that the matter of the possibility for unaccompanied minors to contest their conditions of stay in the reception centers before national courts is followed up in the Darboe and Camara group of cases".
(note 1)

The authorities are requested to provide information on the measures taken to address these issues by the 15th of November 2024, with a view to the next review of the implementation of the judgment by the Committee of Ministers.

(note 1): For further information, Unaccompanied foreign minors: after the ECHR condemnation, the violations remain, ASGI; 28th of November 2023