Rome, April 12 (IANS/AKI) Italy's lower house of parliament on Wednesday gave final approval to a decree to accelerate asylum procedures in Italy and the expulsion of migrants whose applications are rejected.
Members of parliament voted the centre-left government's emergency decree into law with 240 votes in favour, 146 against and 12 abstentions.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni hailed the outcome of the vote on Twitter.
"Parliament has approved new #immigration legislation. Faster asylum. more effective tools for welcoming and integrating," he tweeted.
The new legislation cuts the number of appeals that can be made against an asylum ruling from two to one and required requests for appeals to be made within a month.
Twenty-six new sections specialised in immigration will be created in courts across Italy and up to 250 people will be hired by the interior ministry over the next to years to staff specialised state-run committees handling asylum requests.
The legislation is aimed at helping clear a log-jam of asylum applications and appeals that is burdening Italy's civil courts amid a surge in migrant arrivals since 2014 and the European Union's creation of so-called 'hotspots' that force all migrants to be fingerprinted on arrival in Italy.
Rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday voiced concern at the new law's "significant reduction in the procedural guarantees for asylum seekers" while conservative politicians claim it will not stop illegal immigration, which needs to be stemmed at its source in Africa.