Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Italy

Author

LD 142/2015 sets out the reception standards for third-country nationals making an application for international protection on the territory, including at the borders and in their transit zones or in the territorial waters of Italy.1

On the basis of the previous Reception Decree, asylum seekers, provided they lack financial resources to ensure an adequate standard of living for their and their family members’ health and subsistence,2 could present a reception request when they lodged their asylum claim.3 Access to reception centres had to be provided at the moment of the presentation of the asylum request.4 In other words, in order to benefit from reception conditions, when filing an asylum application at the Questura, an asylum seeker also had to fill in an ad hoc declaration of destitution. The reception request was transmitted by the Questura to the Prefecture in charge of carrying out the assessment of financial resources.

The LD 142/2015 clarifies that the reception measures apply from the moment applicants have manifested their willingness to make an application for international protection,5 and that access to the reception measures is not conditioned upon additional requirements.6 However, access to SPRAR centres is only granted to destitute applicants. Destitution is evaluated by the Prefecture on the basis of the annual social income (assegno sociale annuo).7

In practice, the assessment of financial resources is not carried out by the Prefectures, which consider the self-declarations made by the asylum seekers as valid.8

 

Reception and obstacles to access to the procedure

According to the practice recorded in 2015 and 2016, even though by law asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions immediately after claiming asylum and the “fotosegnalamento” (fingerprinting), they may access accommodation centres only after their formal registration (“verbalizzazione”). This implies that, since the verbalizzazione can take place even months after the presentation of the asylum application, asylum seekers can face obstacles in finding alternative temporary accommodation solutions. Due to this issue, some asylum seekers lacking economic resources are obliged to either resort to friends or to emergency facilities, or to sleep on the streets.9

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has reported that in 2015 at least in four cities, Crotone, Udine, Catania and Bari, there were unaccompanied minors out of reception centres waiting for access to the asylum procedure.10 They found people waiting up to three months in Porta Palatina gardens in Torino, and, in almost all the cities, asylum seekers were unlawfully denied entry in the Questura because they were not in possession of a medical certificate attesting their good health.

During 2016, as reported to ASGI, people who entered Italy from the Eastern border faced lack of accommodation and, insome cases, obstacles to accessing the asylum procedure. In Gorizia, as of 19 December 2015, MSF opened an emergency reception centre for 70 asylum seekers. The project, closed in June 2016, allowed to give assistance to more than 598 asylum seekers excluded from the accommodation system.11 In Udine, people facing obstacles to accessing the procedure had to take shelter in the train station subway.12 In Pordenone, waiting for a place, asylum seekers wandered around the city for several days and slept in the central garden of the city. In Trieste, even though the Prefecture provided for opening new shelters (CAS), people had to spend several days in the abandoned buildings near the train station.

Both in Pordenone and in Trieste, the mayors issued orders prohibiting bivouac and to sleeping on the streets. Applying the order, the city police has imposed fines to some asylum seekers sleeping on the streets but an appeal brought by ASGI lawyers to the Administrative Court of Friuli Venezia Giulia resulted in cancelling the order and consequently annulling the fines in December 2016.13

In Rome, after the eviction of the Baobab centre happened on 24 November of 2015 and later in June and September 2016, asylum seekers have been assisted by volunteers in the streets close to Tiburtina station.14 As reported by Lunaria and MSF, by the end of 2015 there were 105 informal settlements of asylum seekers in Rome. 15

However, the full extent of this phenomenon is not known, since no statistics are available on the number of asylum seekers who have no immediate access to a reception centre immediately after the fotosegnalamento. Moreover, the waiting times between the fotosegnalamento and verbalizzazione differ between Questure, depending inter alia on the number of asylum applications handled by each Questura.  In this regard, it must be also pointed out that since 2014, thanks to the enlargement of the SPRAR system and the establishment of the Temporary Reception Centres (CAS), the situation described above concerns those asylum seekers who enter Italian territory and who file their asylum application in loco to police headquarters. In fact, those asylum seekers rescued at sea are immediately transferred to CAS after disembarkation, regardless of the registration of their applications.16

 

Reception at second instance

With regard to appellants, LD 142/2015 provides that accommodation is ensured until a decision is taken by the CTRPI and, in case of rejection of the asylum application, until the expiration of the timeframe to lodge an appeal before the judicial court. When the appeal has an automatic suspensive effect, accommodation is guaranteed to the appellant until the first instance decision taken by the Court.

However, when the appeals have no automatic suspensive effect, the applicant remains in the same accommodation centre until a decision on the suspensive request is taken by the competent judge. If this request is positive, the applicant remains in the accommodation centre where he or she already lives.17 The applicant detained in a CIE who makes an appeal and a request of suspensive effect of the order, if accepted by the judge, remains in the CIE. Where the detention grounds are no more valid, the appellant is transferred to governmental reception centres.18

Concerning possibility of remaining in accommodation in SPRAR projects after a second appeal, on 7 July 2016 the SPRAR Central Service issued a Circular stating that accommodation is ensured until the decision on the suspensive request is taken from the Court of Appeal.19

According to ASGI, the laws concerning the duration of reception – Article 14(4) LD 142/2015 and Article 19(4) and (5) LD 150/2011 – should be read as also covering the second appeal phase where the suspensive request is accepted.

In this regard, it must be also pointed out that the Italian Courts of Appeal have different orientations on the suspensive effect of the second appeal: in Brescia, Bologna, Napoli, and Venezia, for example, as recorded by ASGI members, Courts of Appeal consider the suspensive effect of the Territorial Commission decision as authomatically extended from the first to the second appeal.

Currently, according to ASGI experience, in many CAS asylum seekers also remain during the second appeal, while in SPRAR the cases are individually evaluated.

 

Reception in the Dublin procedure

With regard to the specific case of asylum seekers under the Dublin procedure, the Italian legal framework does not foresee any particular reception system.20 In addition, LD 142/2015 has clarified that it applies also to the applicants subject to the Dublin procedure.21 Two scenarios should be distinguished:

 

Outgoing transfers from Italy

Since the Italian law does not establish that persons who are waiting to be transferred to another Member State on the basis of the Dublin III Regulation have to be detained, international protection seekers who have received transfer orders are accommodated within the reception centres under the same conditions as other asylum seekers.22

 

Incoming transfers to Italy

Within the broader category of returnees, a further distinction is deemed necessary depending on whether the returnee had already enjoyed the reception system while he or she was in Italy or not.

  • If returnees had not been placed in reception facilities while they were in Italy, they may still enter reception centres (CAS, collective centres, or SPRAR). However, once arrived in the airports they face a severe lack of legal information on how to access again to the asylum procedure and then, due to the lack of available places in reception structures and to the fragmentation of the reception system, the length of time necessary to find again availability in the centres is in most of the cases too long. Since there is no general practice, it is not possible to evaluate the time necessary to access an accommodation. In the last years, temporary reception systems have been established to those persons transferred to Italy on the basis of the Dublin III Regulation. However, it concerns a form of temporary reception that lasts until their juridical situation is defined or, in case they belong to vulnerable categories, an alternative facility is found. Such temporary reception has been set up thanks to targeted projects funded by the European Refugee Fund (ERF). During 2014 11 centres for the reception of Dublin returnees were operating, out of which seven were specifically addressed to vulnerable persons. There were 3 centres in Rome, 3 in the province of Milan, 2 in Venice, 2 in Bologna and 1 in Bari. They could accommodate a total of 443 Dublin Returnees, who were accommodated for a short/medium period on a turnover basis.23 Until 30 June 2014, CIR managed an accommodation facility - the “Locanda Dublino” - in Venice, with a capacity of 40 places. The aforementioned projects providing accommodation centres for Dublin returnees funded under ERF ended at the end of June 2015 and it is expected that they will be funded again. However, it happens that Dublin returnees are not accommodated and find alternative forms of accommodation such as self-organised settlements.24


  • If returnees had been placed in reception facilities and they had moved away, they could encounter problems on their return to Italy for their new accommodation request. Due to their first departure, in fact, and according to the rules provided for the withdrawal of accommodation (see Withdrawal of Reception Conditions), the Prefect could deny them new access to the reception system.25

Dublin returnees who have already been granted a form of protection face the same lack of accommodation as beneficiaries of international protection in Italy (see Content of Protection: Housing).

  • 1. Article 1(1) LD 142/2015.
  • 2. Article 5(2) LD 140/2005.
  • 3. Article 6(1) LD 140/2005.
  • 4. Article 5(5) LD 140/2005.
  • 5. Article 1(2) LD 142/2015.
  • 6. Article 4(4) LD 142/2015.
  • 7. Article 14(3) LD 142/2015.
  • 8. See for more information M Benvenuti, La protezione internazionale degli stranieri in Italia, Jovene Editore, Napoli 2011.
  • 9. For more information, see MSF, Fuoricampo: Richiedenti asilo i rifugiati in Italia: insediamenti informali e marginalità sociale, March 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2letTQd, 11; ANCI et al., Rapporto sulla protezione internazionale in Italia, 2014, available at: http://bit.ly/15k6twe, 124.
  • 10. MSF, Fuoricampo, March 2016, 11.
  • 11. For more information, see MSF, ‘MSF conclude il progetto di primissima accoglienza a Gorizia’, 26 July 2016, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2kNsWxn.
  • 12. ANSA, ‘Migranti: sgomberato nella notte sottopasso stazione Udine’, 31 March 2016, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2kHTUqD.
  • 13. Administrative Court of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Decision No 551/2016, 9 December 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kgQXd3.
  • 14. Il Fatto Quotidiano, ‘Migranti, a Roma buchi nell’accoglienza. E gli sgomberi si scaricano sui cittadini’, 23 January 2017, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2jnJgRY.
  • 15. Lunaria, Il mondo di dentro, il sistema di accoglienza di richiedenti asilo e rifugiati a Roma, October 2016, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2fI7WXK, 11.
  • 16. ANCI et al., Rapporto sulla protezione internazionale in Italia, 2014, 124.
  • 17. Article 14(4) LD 142/2015.
  • 18. Article 14(5) LD 142/2015.
  • 19. Circular of the SPRAR Central Service, 7 July 2016, available at: http://bit.ly/2kCeBS2.
  • 20. ASGI, Il sistema Dublino e l’Italia: Un rapporto in bilico, March 2015, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2kHOmvX.
  • 21. Article 1(3) LD 142/2015.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. ASGI, Il sistema Dublino e l’Italia: Un rapporto in bilico, March 2015, 28.
  • 24. See ASGI, Il sistema Dublino e l’Italia, un rapporto in bilico, March 2015. For observations from previous years, Pro Asyl, The living conditions of refugees in Italy, 2011, 23.
  • 25. According to Articles 13 and 23(1) LD 142/2015, the withdrawal of reception conditions can be decided when the asylum seeker leaves the centre without notifying the competent Prefecture. See also ASGI, Il sistema Dublino e l’Italia, un rapporto in bilico, March 2015.

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The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database managed by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detenti