Italy’s lower house of parliament has approved an anti-illegal immigration bill that has been heavily criticised by the UN, human rights groups and the Catholic Church.
The law, making it a crime to enter the country illegally, is part of a package of measures on security and illegal immigration. The Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, has rejected international criticism of the move, saying that Italy for too long has had to bear a burden that should be shared by all of Europe. But refugee support groups are outraged. One man taking part in a protest in Rome against the measure said: “I think that a country that calls itself democratic cannot allow laws which are racist.” The new legislation is line with a law and order agenda that was central to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s election campaign.