Detention of vulnerable applicants


Country Report: Detention of vulnerable applicants Last updated: 30/11/20


Detention of unaccompanied children


The law explicitly provides that unaccompanied children can never be held detention.[1] However, there have been cases where unaccompanied children have been placed in CPR following wrong age assessment. On 9 February 2019, LaciateCIEntrare reported of an unaccompanied minor detained in the CPR of Trapani since 20 January 2019, even though his family had sent his birth certificate to the facility manager to prove his minor age.

Children have also been detained in hotspots in practice.

After the shipwreck of 23 November 2019, the survivors, including three unaccompanied minors, were moved into the Lampedusa hotspot in a de facto detention situation. After 20 days, and after the presentation of urgent appeals to the ECtHR and the request for clarifications sent by the Court to Italy, the minors were transferred to appropriate centres.[2]

A total of 2,700 children were placed in hotspots in 2018, including 2,002 unaccompanied and 698 accompanied children.[3] No information was available for 2019 at the time of writing.


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.[4] 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.[5]

In CPR, however, legal assistance and psychological support are not systematically provided, although the latter is foreseen in the tender specifications scheme (capitolato) published by the Ministry of Interior on 20 November 2018. 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,[6] 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.


[1]Article 19(4) Reception Decree.

[2] ASGI, In Limine, La Corte EDU chiede chiarimenti all’Italia sull’hotspot di Lampedusa, 12 December 2019.

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

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

[5] Article 7(5) Reception Decree.

[6]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