[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Tuesday dismissed [judgment, DOC; in French] a suit against Italy by Palestinian immigrants alleging illegal expulsion from the country. In a statement [press release] explaining its decision, the court questioned the existence of at least 34 of the 84 immigrants, and was unable to locate 57 of the individuals. Regarding the 14 individuals who were known to have been expelled to Libya, the court said, "the expulsion order against each one of them had been individually endorsed by a district court following a hearing held in the presence of a lawyer and an interpreter." Reaction to the news was mixed [ANSA report], with some hailing the result as a showing that the original immigration by the individuals was illegal, and others expressing concern over a culture of insensitivity towards the suffering of others.
Illegal immigration is a growing problem in Italy, where about 36,000 illegal immigrants arrived by boat in 2008. Earlier this month, a group of African immigrants was evacuated [JURIST report] from the town of Rosarno after violence was directed towards migrant farm workers there. In August, rights groups criticized Italy [JURIST report] for returning a suspected terrorist to Tunisia, disregarding obligations imposed by the ECHR. In July, the Italian Senate approved a law [JURIST report] that would criminalize illegal immigration with a fine of between 5,000 and 10,000 euros and up to 6 months detention before deportation.