A senior European rights official has criticized a controversial security bill approved by the Italian Senate which sanctions fines and immediate expulsion for illegal immigrants.

Thomas Hammerberg of the Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner said that he hopes the government will remove “discriminatory” measures from the bill before it becomes law, citing a need for more coordination in Europe over illegal immigration. Hammerberg argues that the bill, which allows for the expulsion of thousands of illegal immigrants arriving on the southern island of Lampedusa, and the government’s repatriation of several Tunisian terror suspects, despite the risk of torture upon return, are in breach of rulings by the European court. Hammerberg also stressed the importance of schooling of immigrant children as key to integration. “There is a need for more, solid factual information about the whole situation instead of stirring up xenophobia,” he added.

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