Repatriation center must allow use of cellphones,Italy court

18 March, 09:00

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, MAR 18 - A court in Milan on March 15 ruled in favor of a Tunisian asylum seeker, saying that he must be allowed to use his cell phone inside the CPR repatriation center where he is being held.

    A court in Milan on March 15 ruled that a Tunisian asylum seeker currently staying at the CPR repatriation center in the city's Via Corelli must be allowed to use his cell phone. Under rules currently in place, CPR residents are now allowed to keep their cell phones inside the center.

    The Association of Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), which published the ruling, reported that preventing cell phone access "is a limitation of the right to freedom of communication of detainees that has no legal grounds in our system and instead goes against constitutional and international legislation protecting such a right".

    Violation of the right to defense The association also highlighted that limiting communication with the outside world, due to the fact that residents are not allowed to keep their cell phones with them, could violate their right to a defense. ASGI said that such a circumstance was particularly evident in this specific case. The association said that the Milan court acknowledged in the ruling that the asylum seeker who filed the case was not allowed to communicate with his trusted defense attorney before the hearing to confirm his detention, with the consequence that he was unable to have his assistance on that occasion. The tribunal ordered the prefecture, Milan's police headquarters and the agency managing the center to allow the man to keep with him and use his cell phone, according to rules outlined by a ministerial regulation dating back to October 20, 2014, for visits inside the centers.

    The regulation said that visits must be held in specific rooms under surveillance, in the respect of a person's privacy and for a sufficient amount of time, or at least two hours.

    The ruling did not only cite national and international legislation - "the particular relevance during detention of the freedom to communicate with the external world by phone" can be deduced by the "frequency with which it is mentioned by laws", the court wrote. It also cited the recommendations drafted by the National guarantor of the rights of detained persons regarding foreign detainees, recognizing the freedom to use a phone as a fundamental right established by art. 15 of the Constitution that must be guaranteed inside CPR centers.

    'A step forward to safeguard the rights of detained foreigners' According to ASGI, the conclusions of the ruling were particularly significant. The tribunal in fact said that the freedom to communicate with different categories of people - ranging from family members, to attorneys, the UNHCR, clerics and diplomatic representatives of the country of origin - can't be guaranteed through the public phones present inside the center because detainees need access to their personal contacts.

    "Although of small entity given the conditions, often very precarious, of treatment inside CPRs, the principles outlined by the tribunal of Milan represent a step forward in the safeguard of the rights of detained foreigners", the association stressed.

    (Police intervene during a protest at the CPR in Via Corelli in Milan, on October 12, 2020. Photo: ANSA/Andrea Fasani) (ANSAmed).

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