• Over 45,000 boat migrants reached Italy in 2013. The deaths of over 500 in two shipwrecks in early October highlighted the need for more effective and coordinated EU rescue operations. A subsequent Italian naval operation has saved hundreds of lives. Authorities summarily return to Greece unaccompanied migrant children and adult asylum seekers who stow away on ferries.  Serious concerns persist about inadequate reception facilities for asylum seekers and substandard conditions in immigration detention. Roma endure evictions from informal camps, segregation, and discrimination. The repeated racist slurs faced by the nation’s first black minister highlighted wider intolerance. Italy was the first EU country to ratify the ILO Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

  • European Union flags fly in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. © Reuters 2012
    Amid economic crisis and much contested austerity measures in many member states, discrimination, racism, and homophobia remained serious problems in European Union member states.  Roma, migrants, and asylum seekers are particularly marginalized. The Council of the European Union acknowledged for the first time that more is needed to ensure human rights violations within EU borders are adequately addressed, with an ongoing policy debate focused on improving responses to rule of law crises. Meanwhile, abusive practices around the EU continued without adequate action by EU institutions and member states.


  • Summary Returns of Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Adult Asylum Seekers from Italy to Greece
  • Racist and Xenophobic Violence in Italy
  • Italy's Forced Return of Boat Migrants and Asylum Seekers, Libya's Mistreatment of Migrants and Asylum Seekers


  • Jul 8, 2014
    An Italian naval vessel made a grim discovery in the Mediterranean Sea last month. Alerted that a 20-meter fishing vessel was in distress, the crew located and began evacuating the 600 or so migrants on board. The Italian navy captain told the BBC that his crew had also found dead bodies packed in a hold on the ship.
  • May 15, 2014
    My twitter feed on Monday was full of the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean. At least 17 people died when an overcrowded boat sank on the crossing from Libya to Italy, with many more still unaccounted for. We don’t know their names or their stories. They join the grim toll of perhaps 20,000 people over the last decade whose lives have ended trying to reach Europe for protection or a better life.
  • Apr 3, 2014
  • Mar 18, 2014
  • Mar 12, 2014
  • Jan 30, 2014
    When a newspaper began publishing a government minister’s schedule every day, it might have passed unobserved or even been seen as a public service. But this is Italy, the newspaper is the official organ of the xenophobic Northern League, and the public official is Integration Minister Cécile Kyenge, the country’s first black cabinet minister.
  • Jan 21, 2014
    European Union (EU) leaders in 2013 acknowledged problems of rising intolerance and persistent human rights violations across the EU, but failed to take concerted action, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2014.
  • Dec 18, 2013
  • Dec 4, 2013
  • Nov 26, 2013
    This week, millions will set out for Thanksgiving, a holiday that celebrates how refugees from religious persecution found freedom in a new land. I’ll be one of those traveling. Of course, I’ll be travelling legally, with the right paperwork. Most of us can't imagine how much harder it is to cross international borders if you can’t get your papers in order. Yet millions of people fleeing war and instability, or fearing persecution from their own government, don’t have the luxury of applying for passports and waiting for visas.