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Italian parliament to mull UN migrant pact: PM

Italy's parliament is to have the last word on a UN migration pact that at least nine other countries have already rejected
Italy's parliament is to have the last word on a UN migration pact that at least nine other countries have already rejected AFP

Rome (AFP)

Italy's parliament will have the last word on the UN migration pact, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday, so its officials will not attend a conference next month to ratify it.

Italy "reserves the right to adhere to this document or not only after the parliament has decided," Conte said.

Italian officials would therefore not attend December's UN conference in Marrakesh on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, where delegates there will formally adopt it.

"The migration pact is a document that deals with issues and questions our citizens are concerned by," an Italian government statement said.

"For this reason, we think it advisable to task parliament with a debate and the final choice once talks have concluded," it added.

The statement came as Italian deputies were expected to adopt a draft immigration law Wednesday backed by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the far-right League.

It would tighten immigration policies, in part by replacing a current two-year humanitarian residency permit obtained by around 25 percent of migrants, with permits of shorter duration.

Migrants considered dangerous could also be expelled via a new emergency procedure.

Conte's statement on the UN pact was the latest sign that some countries who signed up to the agreement in July after 18 months of talks are now having second thoughts.

A week ago, Switzerland said it would postpone its decision on the UN pact owing to opposition from parliamentary committees.

Austria, Australia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, and the United States have also either publicly disavowed the pact or notified the United Nations that they are withdrawing.

The non-binding UN accord lays out 23 objectives to facilitate legal migration as the number of people on the move worldwide has grown to 250 million, or just over three percent of the world's population.

Among its principles are the protection of human rights, including those specific to children, and recognition of national sovereignty.

Its objectives include helping countries deal with migration by sharing best practices to improve information and integration.

In October, Italy had registered 146,000 migrants on its territory, who could be regrouped in large centres to reduce costs.

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