Grounds for cessation
According to Article 9 of the Qualification Decree, a third-country national shall cease to be a refugee if he or she:
- Has voluntarily re-availed himself or herself of the protection of the country of nationality;
- Having lost his nationality, has voluntarily re-acquired it;
- Has acquired Italian nationality, or other nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his or her new nationality;
- Has voluntarily re-established him or herself in the country which he or she left or outside which he or she remained owing to fear of persecution;
- Can no longer, because the circumstances in connection with which he has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist, continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of nationality; or
- In the case of a stateless person, he or she is able, because the circumstances in connection with which he or she has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist, to return to the country of former habitual residence.
The change of circumstances which led to the recognition of protection is also a reason for the cessation of subsidiary protection.
Decree Law 113/2018 has introduced a new provision to the Qualification Decree according to which any return of a beneficiary of international protection to the country of origin which is not justified by serious and proven reasons is relevant for the assessment of cessation of international protection.
The circumstances taken into consideration to assess termination are: frequency of trips to the country of origin; length of stay in the country of origin; place of stay in the country of origin; reasons for travel to the country of origin.
In both cases, the change must be of non-temporary nature and there must not exist serious humanitarian reasons preventing return to the country of origin. Although the law provides that protection may cease in these cases, this does not happen in practice. The Qualification Decree states that, even when the situation in the country of origin has changed, the beneficiary of international protection can invoke compelling reasons arising out of previous persecution for refusing to avail him or herself of the protection of the country of nationality not to be returned.
The CNDA is responsible for deciding on cessation. According to the law, cessation cases of refugees have to be dealt individually. No specific groups of beneficiaries in Italy specifically face cessation of international protection but, according to CNDA statistics most cessation decisions concern nationals of Pakistan and Mali.
However, several cases of cessation of subsidiary protection have been started by the CNDA since 2017 regarding people who were found at airports or borders with stamps on their passports attesting they had returned to their country of origin. The new provision introduced by Decree Law 113/2018 on the relevance of any return of the beneficiary to the country of origin for cessation, will likely result in automatically initiating the cessation procedure in such cases, as confirmed by the practice recorded by ASGI in 2020.
The person concerned must be informed in writing of the specific reasons why the Commission considers whether to review of his or her legal status. The person has the right to take part in the proceedings, to request to be heard and to produce written documentation, but has not access to free legal assistance. The CNDA sets a hearing only if it is deemed as necessary. If the person, duly notified, fails to appear, the decision is made on the basis of the available documentation.
The Commission should decide within 30 days after the interview or after the expiration of time allowed for sending documents.
An appeal against the decision can be lodged before the competent Civil Court, within 30 days from notification. The appeal has automatic suspensive effect and follows the same rules as in the Regular Procedure: Appeal.
The person who has lost refugee status or subsidiary protection may be granted a residence permit on other grounds, according to the TUI. The CNDA can approve an international protection status different from the status ceased or, if it considers that the foreigner cannot be expelled nor refouled, it can transmit the documents to the Questura for the issuance of a residence permit of special protection. If the permit of stay for refugee status or subsidiary protection expires in the course of proceedings before the CNDA, it is renewed until the Commission’s decision.
In practice, cessation is not applied on the basis of changed circumstances. The CNDA starts cessation procedures after receiving information from the Questura or the Territorial Commission that the beneficiary has returned to his or her country of origin. Statistics from the CNDA referring to number of cessation and withdrawal procedures are not available for 2020.
 Article 15(1) Qualification Decree.
 Articles 9(2-ter) and 15(2-ter) Qualification Decree, inserted by Article 8 Decree Law 113/2018 and L 132/2018.
 EMN, Studio del Punto di Contatto Italiano European Migration Network (EMN), 2020, available at : https://bit.ly/3fiWCwP
 Articles 9(2) and 15(2) Qualification Decree.
 Articles 9(2-bis) and 15(2-bis) Qualification Decree.
 Article 5 Procedure Decree; Article 13 PD 21/2015.
 Article 9(1) Qualification Decree.
 Article 35-bis(3) Procedure Decree.
 Article 33(3) Procedure Decree, referring to the Article 32(3), now amended by Decree Law 130/2020.
 Article 33 Procedure Decree; Article 14 PD 21/2015.