AP More than 150,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean and taken to Italy so far this year
A leading human rights group has accused Italian police of using violent tactics to fingerprint migrants.
Amnesty International said it had 24 accounts of ill treatment, including beatings and electric shocks.
Italy’s government rejected the report’s findings as “totally false”. There was also scepticism from the European Commission.
Police chief Franco Gabrielli denied that “violent methods are used in identifying or repatriating migrants”.
Under EU rules, migrants must stay in the first country they reach, which is determined by where they give their fingerprints.
Many irregular migrants are therefore reluctant to be fingerprinted, fearing they will not be able to leave Italy.
‘Beaten, slapped, electrocuted’
Amnesty said the behaviour of most Italian police officers involved was professional but it called for an independent review of the allegations.
“The European Union’s pressure on Italy to ‘get tough’ on refugees and migrants has led to unlawful expulsions and ill treatment which in some cases may amount to torture,” the organisation said.
A 25-year-old woman from Eritrea said she had been slapped repeatedly in the face by a policeman until she agreed to be fingerprinted, and a 16-year-old boy and a 27-year-old man said police had applied pain to their genitals.
The older man said: “I was on a chair made of aluminium, with an opening on the seat. They held my shoulders and legs, took my testicles with the pliers, and pulled twice. I can’t say how painful it was.”
Amnesty also highlighted the dangers faced by migrants who are returned to their country of origin.
The report quoted a 27-year-old man from Darfur in Sudan who said he had been put on a flight back from Italy. He said the security forces had been awaiting his arrival in Khartoum.
“They took us to a special area in the airport,” he said. “I saw one man beaten…We were interrogated one by one.”
The head of Italy’s immigration department, Mario Morcone, said the report was bewildering and that lies had been told. He also pointed out that UN staff were based at the “hot spots” where migrants arrived in Italy.
Reuters Migrants reported having pain inflicted with pliers and electric batons Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty’s Researcher on Italy, told the BBC that migrants had been subjected to “appalling abuse”.