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Dutch court says migrants risk mistreatment in Italy

The Dutch government cannot send asylum seekers back to Italy, where they risk facing mistreatment and human rights violations, a judge in the Netherlands ruled Wednesday.

“The Italian authorities themselves have indicated… that transfers to Italy are not possible due to the lack of reception facilities,” said the Dutch Council of State, referring to a letter issued by Rome in December.

Italy’s right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had announced a “temporary suspension” of so-called “Dublin transfers”, a system of asylum rules that requires countries of first arrival to the European Union to process migrants.

The ruling by the top Dutch administrative court reversed two previous decisions, which rejected asylum seekers requesting entry to the Netherlands because under the Dublin system, they should have been received by Italy where they first entered Europe.

“There is a real risk that foreign nationals, beyond their will and their choice, will find themselves in a situation of material mistreatment of very great magnitude when being transferred to Italy,” said the court.

Migrants could find themselves in a situation “that prevents them from meeting their basic needs such as housing, food and running water,” it continued.

One case involved a Nigerian national, born in 1990, who had requested asylum between 2014 and 2019 in Italy, in Switzerland and in Austria, according to the ruling obtained by AFP.

The asylum seeker filed an application to the Netherlands on July 2, 2002, which was rejected on December 9 due to the Dublin system.

The other case involved an Eritrean born in 2006, who had entered the EU via Italy on January 28, 2022. The individual filed an asylum request to the Netherlands in March, which was then rejected in November, again on the basis of the Dublin rules.

The complainants appealed the decision to the Council of State.

Many European countries, like the Netherlands, are calling on Italy to comply with the Dublin rules.