Italy is facing widespread criticism and possible legal action after a shocking video that purportedly shows migrants stripping naked before being hosed down was broadcast on TV this week.
Reportedly filmed on a mobile device at a holding center on the island of Lampedusa, the footage has sparked strong criticism and the center has been compared to a "concentration camp."
The Italian government vowed to investigate the treatment of migrants at its refugee centers Tuesday, as Italian officials publicly denounced the conditions depicted in the video. Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini related the images to Nazi-era concentration camps, while Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta vowed to punish anyone responsible, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The European Commission also threatened legal action Wednesday for a possible breach of the European Union's asylum rules, Reuters reports.
"New images from Lampedusa are appalling and unacceptable," EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expressed on Twitter. "We will not hesitate to launch an infringement procedure to make sure EU standards and obligations are fully respected."
The video, first broadcast on a state-run TV channel Monday, shows men lined up in a warehouse space. One by one, they remove their clothes before being hosed down. According to BBC News, an unnamed Syrian refugee claims to have secretly filmed the treatment of migrants at the Lampedusa holding center. The spray-down treatment is apparently a preventative measure against scabies.
Camp manager Cono Gallipo responded to the widespread allegations of migrant mistreatment Wednesday.
"We are aware of what the video shows," Gallipo told CNN. "But that is not exactly how things work and what really happened."
Gallipo added that when the video was shot on Dec. 13, migrants willingly removed their clothes while waiting in line and asked for the treatment to be performed in the open, rather than in an enclosed shower.
In October, hundreds of migrants drowned when a boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa. After the tragic accident, the Italian government promised to improve conditions at the migrant center, which was already suffering under the strain of overcrowding.