|Name in English||Number of Commissions
|Ministry responsible||Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the determining authority?|
|Territorial Commissions for International Protection||20 + 21 sub commissions||Ministry of Interior||Yes|
The competent authorities to examine asylum applications and to take first instance decisions are the Territorial Commissions for the Recognition of International Protection (Commissioni Territoriali per il Riconoscimento della Protezione Internazionale), which are administrative bodies specialised in the field of asylum, under the Ministry of Interior. The Territorial Commissions are established under the responsibility of Prefectures. LD 220/2017, entering into force on 31 January 2018, reformed the functioning and composition of the Territorial Commissions.
Composition of Territorial Commissions
The law foresees the creation of 20 Territorial Commissions and up to 30 sub-Commissions across the national territory, in order to boost and improve the management of the increasing number of applications for international protection. As of December 2019, there were 20 Territorial Commissions and 21 sub-Commissions across Italy. There is no updated number available for 2020.
As amended by LD 220/2017, each Territorial Commission is composed at least by 6 members, in compliance with gender balance. These include:
- 1 President, with prefectural experience, appointed by the Ministry of Interior;
- 1 expert in international protection and human rights, designated by UNHCR;
- 4 or more highly qualified administrative officials of the Ministry of Interior, appointed by public tender.
In 2018, 250 specialized members were appointed by public tender and another 162 were added during 2019.
The Territorial Commissions may be supplemented, upon request of the President of the National Commission for the Right to Asylum (CNDA), by an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when, in relation to particular asylum seekers, it is necessary to acquire specific assessments of competence regarding the situation in the country of origin.
Before the appointment of the members of the Territorial Commissions, the absence of conflict of interests must be evaluated. For the President and the UNHCR representative, one or more substitutes are appointed. The assignment is valid for 3 years, renewable.
Following the 2017 reform, interviews are conducted by officials of the Ministry of Interior and no longer by UNHCR. The decision-making sessions of the Commission consist of panel discussions composed by the President, the UNHCR-appointed expert and two of the administrative officers, including the one conducting the interview. Under the Procedure Decree, the decision on the merits of the asylum claim must be taken at least by a simple majority of the Territorial Commission, namely 3 members; in the case of a tie, the President’s vote prevails.
The CNDA has adopted a Code of Conduct for the members of the Territorial Commissions, the interpreters and the personnel supporting them. The CNDA not only coordinates and gives guidance to the Territorial Commissions in carrying out their tasks, but is also responsible for the revocation and cessation of international protection.
These bodies should be independent in taking individual decisions on asylum applications but, due to their belonging to the Department of Civil Liberties and Immigration of the Ministry of Interior, in more cases, they received instructions from the Ministry of Interior. Some examples are the instructions given for the grounds of inadmissibility, manifestly unfoundedness, border procedure.
Throughout 2020, EASO deployed 208 different experts in Italy. The majority of them were research officers (67), caseworkers (28), project officers (17) and administrative assistants (14), followed by other support staff (e.g. project assistants, Dublin staff, operational staff, registration staff etc.). As of 14 December 2020, there were still 174 EASO experts present in Italy, mostly research officers (61), caseworkers (19), project officers (14) and registration support officers (10). EASO moved its main support to the second instance, with file preparation, support with Country of Origin Information, research, supporting all the Tribunals in Italy.
Training and quality assurance
The law requires the CNDA to ensure training and refresher courses to its members and Territorial Commissions’ staff. Training is supposed to ensure that those who will consider and decide on asylum claims will take into account asylum seeker’s personal and general circumstances, including the applicant’s culture of origin or vulnerability. Since 2014, the CNDA has organised training courses based on the EASO modules, in particular on “Inclusion”, “Country of Origin Information” and “Interview Techniques”. These training courses provide both an online study session and a two-day advanced analysis conducted at central level in Rome. In addition to these permanent trainings, courses on specific topics are also organised at the local level. EASO continues to support the CNDA and Questure with design of trainings.
By law, the National Commission should also provide training to interpreters to ensure appropriate communication between the applicant and the official who conducts the substantive interview. However, in practice interpreters do not receive any specialised training. Some training courses on asylum issues are organised on ad hoc basis, but not regularly.
 Article 4(1) Procedure Decree, as amended by LD 220/2017.
 Article 4(2) Procedure Decree.
 Article 4(2-bis) Procedure Decree.
 Article 4(3) Procedure Decree, as amended by LD 220/2017.
 Article 4(1-bis) Procedure Decree, inserted by LD 220/2017, citing Article 13 Decree Law 13/2017, followed by the appointment of 250 persons through public tender.
 Ministry of Interior, audition at Parliament, 7 November 2019.
 Article 4(3) Procedure Decree, as amended by LD 220/2017.
 Article 4(4) Procedure Decree.
 Article 5(1-ter) Procedure Decree.
 Articles 13 and 14 PD 21/2015.
 Information provided by EASO, 26 February 2021.
 Article 15 Procedure Decree.