Detention of vulnerable applicants


Country Report: Detention of vulnerable applicants Last updated: 03/06/21


Detention of unaccompanied children

The law explicitly provides that unaccompanied children can never be detained.[1] However, there have been cases where unaccompanied children have been placed in CPR following a wrong age assessment.

Children have also been detained in hotspots in practice.

A total of 1,609 children were placed in hotspots in 2019, including 1,228 unaccompanied and 381 accompanied children.[2] Regarding 2020, as of 15 April 2020, 606 minors were placed in hotspots, including 515 unaccompanied and 91 accompanied children.[3]

On 30 December 2020, the regional Guarantor for detained persons visited the CPR of Ponte Galeria, in Rome. Many detained persons told the guarantor that they were minors, but in only one case a detainee was able to document it. Thus, the situation was immediately represented to the President of the Juvenile Court and to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and, the day after, on December 31st, the Tunisian minor was released by the CPR and placed in a reception facility. [4]

LasciateCientrare told ASGI about several cases of minors detained in CPR in 2020 and early 2021: one case was reported at the CPR of Gradisca d’Isonzo; 7 cases at the CPR of Turin; 3 in Ponte Galeria, in Rome; one other case at Palazzo San Gervasio, in March 2021.[5]

An ASGI lawyer directly dealt with the case of a minor detained at Ponte Galeria CPR in December 2020.  The boy had been transferred to the CPR directly after the quarantine period spent on a ship and during which he was not able to prove his minor age and was notified with a refoulement order. Once in CPR, although he had exhibited a birth certificate which showed he was 17 years old, no report had been made to the Public prosecutor to the Juvenile Court. The health assessment was carried out in total autonomy by the Questura. At the second validation hearing the new Judge of the peace, having ascertained that the health assessment did not entirely exclude the minor age, did not validate the detention.

In the report published on 12 April 2021, the National Guarantor for detained persons found an illegitimate practice at the CPR of Gradisca, Rome and Turin according to which social and health checks were ordered by the Public Security Authority against detainees who had declared themselves minors without the involvement of the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Juvenile Court. In numerous cases examined as a result of the examinations carried out, people were considered adults and often repatriated without further and different checks. This practice is completely contrary to the age assessment procedure referred to in 19 bis (4)  and (9) Reception Decree.

In Gradisca this happened at least in two cases in which people had declared that they were born in 2003 but were repatriated to Tunisia on 23 November 2020 and 7 December 2020. Also in Turin this involved another Tunisian detainee who had declared as a date born in 2003, repatriated on November 23, 2020.

With respect to the Trapani-Milo CPR, on the day of the visit carried out on 25 November 2019, the Guarantor found 11 people who declared themselves minors coming from the hotspot of Lampedusa and in general, he ascertained that the phenomenon was very frequent because, during the of the visit carried out on 23 November 2019 in the hotspot of Lampedusa, he verified that the foreign citizen is substantially precluded from the possibility of modifying the personal data reported in the foglio notizie.

At the outcome of the age assessment procedure, in the CPR of Trapani-Milo dozens of people from Lampedusa and registered there as adults were recognized as minors and, consequently, released but in the meantime they had undergone several weeks of unlawful detention.

Although in Trapani-Milo the Guarantor verified that people who declare themselves minors were transferred to a special area (sector C) this however represented a violation of the law that provides, in case of doubts that the person is considered a minor and therefore not withheld at all. Furthermore, he underlined that the solution did not avoid situations of promiscuity between adults and minors.[6]

Detention of other vulnerable groups

Detention of children in families in CPR is not prohibited. Children can be detained together with their parents if they request it and if decided by the Juvenile Court. In practice, very few children are detained.

Following the 2017 reform, the law also prohibits the detention of vulnerable persons.[7] According to the law, in the framework of the social and health services guaranteed in CPR, an assessment of vulnerability situations requiring specific assistance should be periodically provided.[8]

In CPR, however, legal assistance and psychological support are not systematically provided, although the latter was foreseen in the tender specifications scheme (capitolato) published by the Ministry of Interior on 20 November 2018 and in the new one published on 24 February 2021. To date, no protocol on early identification of and assistance to vulnerable persons, and on the referral system to specialised services and/or reception centres has been adopted. Although standards of services in CPR centres are planned following the national regulation on management of the centres, they are insufficient and inadequate, especially for vulnerable categories of individuals. Moreover, the quality of services may differ from one CPR to another. In this respect, the Reception Decree provides that, where possible, a specific place should be reserved to asylum seekers,[9] and Article 4(e) of the Regulation of 20 October 2014 of the Minister of Interior provides the same for persons with special reception needs.

According to ASGI experience this is not applied in practice.



[1]  Article 19(4) Reception Decree.

[2] Guarantor for the rights of detained persons, Relazione al Parlamento 2019, 26 March 2019, available in Italian at:, 133.

[3] Guarantor for the rights of detained persons, Report to Parliament, March 2020, p. 205

[4]  Region Lazio, “Il centro di permanenza per il rimpatrio di Ponte Galeria”, 4 January 2021, available at :

[5] Information reported to ASGI by Lasciatecientrare.

[6] National Guarantor for detained persons, report 12 April 2021, p. 37, available at:

[7]  Article 7(5) Reception Decree, as amended by Article 8 Decree  Law 13/2017 and L 46/2017.

[8]  Article 7(5) Reception Decree.

[9]  Article 6(1) Reception Decree.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation