The Italian government has partially reversed tough migration laws inspired by former interior minister and current far-right opposition leader Matteo Salvini.
The so-called “Security Decrees,” which Salvini spearheaded in 2018 and 2019, were amended by a government decree approved by the Cabinet late on Monday.
It extends asylum and work permit rights for migrants and reforms the migrant reception system with a stronger focus on integration, according to a government statement on Tuesday.
Furthermore, fines of up to 1 million euros (1.18 million dollars) for migrant rescue charities that make unauthorised entries into Italian territorial waters were lowered to 10,000-50,000 euros.
The fines are not applicable if charity vessels liaise with their flag state and maritime authorities coordinating search and rescue operations and follow their instructions, the government said.
A change in the Salvini laws, specifically on the issue of fines, had been urged by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who called the penalties “disproportionate.”
It was one of the stated priorities of the current government when it took office in September 2019, after Salvini’s nationalist League party moved to the opposition.
However, the reform took a long time to be approved, mainly because it was politically awkward for the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), the League’s former coalition party.
The M5S is now in government with the centre-left Democratic Party.
The new migration rules are due to enter into force after they are signed by Mattarella and published in the official gazette. Normally this takes a few days.
Parliament also has to ratify them within 60 days.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim)