Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 31/05/23
The previous report update was published in May 2022.
- Access to the territory: In 2022, according to MOI data, 105,129 people disembarked in Italy, 37,652 more than the previous year, marking a 55,79% increase in the number of disembarkations. 53,310 came from Libya, more than 32,371 from Tunisia and 16,205 from Türkiye. Around 13,000 people arrived from the Balkan Route at the land border of Trieste. From 1 January 2022 to 14 November 2022, 1,917 third Country nationals have received a return order from the Border Police Office at the Adriatic ports cities and 81 people have been readmitted to Greece. In December 2022, informal readmissions procedures to Slovenia restarted but they did not involve anymore asylum seekers. However, the Slovenian government did not accept various people who Italian border police tried to send back to the country. According to the information obtained by Altreconomia through a FOIA request, out of 190 readmissions tried, only 23 were successful.
- Relevant case law on access to the territory: On 24 May 2022, the Civil Court of Rome, following an urgent appeal submitted by a Moroccan citizen who belongs to the Saharawi ethnic group, ordered the competent authorities to issue a visa that would allow the applicant to apply for protection in Italy and demonstrated the obligation on the part of the Italian authorities on the basis of the fact that the applicant, had previously resided in Italy for several years and that he had kept a strict link with Italy, due also to working reasons.
- New legislation: On 2 January 2023 the Government adopted the Law decree 1/2023 which was converted into Law 15/2023 on 24 February 2023. The law introduced rules of conduct for vessels (and their captains) carrying out search and rescue activities at sea, and consequent sanctions for those deemed responsible for non-compliance or erroneous compliance with those rules or orders issued by the Government. On 26 February, nearby the Calabrian coast -precisely in Steccato di Cutro – a tragic shipwreck took place, causing the death of at least 94 people, out of which several were children. The Government’s response to the request from civil society organisations to expand safe and legal pathways to access Italy, was the adoption, on 10 March 2023, of an urgent decree on migration matters. While the government declared to have strengthen the criminal response to traffickers and increased channels to access Italy through labour permits, no significant improvements in national legislation on legal migration were observed by NGOs. Through the conversion of the so-called “Cutro Decree” into law no. 50 of 5 May 2023, several changes to national asylum provisions were introduced. Among these, there were the expansion of the scope of application of the border procedure and the increase in cases in which asylum seekers can be detained.
- Access to the asylum procedure: Throughout 2022, access to the asylum procedure remained challenging. While the hotspot approach continued, both for disembarkations and on the national territory, many Questure continued to deny access to procedure, asking for requirements not provided by law or putting numerical limits to the access at the offices or subjecting access to the use of the electronic procedure which in most cases fixed the first appointment of the formalization appointment after many months. In several cases, national courts upheld the urgent appeals submitted by third country nationals ordering Questure to allow access to the asylum procedure.
- Dublin procedure: In 2022, 27,928 requests (including both take charge and take back requests) were received in the incoming procedure. Regarding the outgoing procedure, there were 5,315, total requests. 12 family reunifications transfers towards other States took place, while 153 incoming transfers were realised based family criteria. Transfers in the outgoing procedure were only 65. On 5 December 2022, the Italian Dublin Unit issued a letter to other countries bound by the Dublin system, informing that from the following day incoming transfers to Italy would be suspended due to the absence of places in the reception system. Italy specified that the suspension does not affect the reunification procedures for minors. Law 50/2023 introduced the possibility to detain asylum seekers awaiting the Dublin transfer in case they present risk of absconding. The Advocate General published her opinion regarding the pending case at the CJEU related to the information duties and the indirect refoulement.
- Safe country concepts: The 2023 reform introduced the possibility to carry out a border procedure for people making the application at the border or transit areas in case they come from safe countries of origin. On 17 March 2023 the list of Safe countries of origin has been changed excluding Ukraine and adding Ivory Coast, Gambia, Georgia and Nigeria. The safe countries procedure does not apply to applications submitted by citizens from these last four countries before the entry into force of the decree, entered into force on 9 April 2023.
- Reception capacity: At the end of 2022, the total number of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection accommodated in reception facilities was 107,677. On 8 May 2023, the Government declared the state of emergency as a result of the exceptional increase in the flows of migrant people accessing the national territory through the Mediterranean route.
- Access to reception: Law 50/2023, converting into law the Decree Law 20/2023 (Cutro Decree), of 5 May 2023, once again excluded asylum seekers from the possibility to access the SAI system, similarly to what was previously done through the “Salvini Decree”. Access to the SAI will only be granted to asylum seekers identified as vulnerable and to those who have legally entered Italy through complementary pathways (government-led resettlements or private sponsored humanitarian admission programs). The law also introduced the possibility for Prefectures to accommodate asylum seekers in provisional reception facilities in case places are not available in government centres or temporary facilities (CAS).
- Conditions in reception centres: Services in accommodation centres for asylum seekers have been strongly reduced and limited to health care assistance, social assistance and linguistic- cultural mediation while the legal support, the psychological support and Italian classes were cancelled. Law 50/2023 also amended the Reception Decree by cancelling the provision according to which a serious violation of the internal regulation of the reception centre or violent behaviour by the asylum seeker can motivate the withdrawal of the reception measures. According to the new law, this kind of behaviour can now motivate a reduction but never a withdrawal of the accommodation measures.
Detention of asylum seekers
- Detention capacity: In 2022 the number of pre-removal centres (CPR) grew to 10 and the number of hotspots to 4.
- Relevant case law on detention: On 30 March 2023, in the case A. and Others v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for violating Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment), Article 5 (right to liberty and security) and Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention, on the complaint lodged by the four Tunisian nationals rescued and transferred to the Lampedusa hotspot and here victims of de facto detention.
- Additional grounds for detention: L. 50/2023 introduced additional grounds to order the detention of an asylum seeker. In particular, it allows the detention of applicants in the border procedure in case they are not in possession of passport and cannot prove to have the sufficient financial guarantees; it allows detention in case it is necessary to determine the elements on which it is based the international protection application (in case they cannot be acquired without detention) and applicants present risk of absconding; it allows the detention of Dublin asylum seekers; enlarges detention for identification purposes, detailing it could be carried out also during fingerprinting operations and database checks also allowing that these operations are carried out is facilities similar to hotspots along the national territory.
Content of international protection
- SAI centres: As of February 2023, SAI comprised of a total of 934 smaller-scale decentralised projects. The projects funded a total of 43,923 accommodation places. Among the SAI projects currently funded, 36,821 are ordinary places, 6,299 for unaccompanied minors (including 1,506 AMIF places), and 803 for people with mental distress or physical disabilities.
The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the annex on Temporary Protection to this report. For further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection.
Temporary protection procedure
- Key statistics on temporary protection: Between 8 March and 31 December 2022, temporary protection was issued in favour of 150,478 Ukrainian citizens, 260 Russian citizens
179 Moldovan citizens, 63 Belarusian citizens and 455 to other nationalities.
- Scope of temporary protection: The scope of TPD is not restricted compared to the Council Decision, except with regard to displaced people who cannot prove they left Ukraine after 24 February 2022 through official documentation such as passport stamps or equivalent documents. This is being used as a strict time limit by Italian authorities as far as temporary protection is concerned.
- Documentary evidence: The main issues concerning documentary evidence were those related to the proof of having left Ukraine after 24 February 2022 (mainly by passport stamps). Those not in possession of an international passport were requested to address Ukrainian consulates in order to obtain a certificate of Ukrainian nationality containing also the date and place of birth and a photo.
- Information provision: On national territory and depending on the region or municipality, some organisations provided information to people fleeing from Ukraine. Information was also provided by the Italian government through a dedicated website, which links to a written booklet on temporary protection and rights of people fleeing from Ukraine in Italy. At the borders, emergency checkpoints were set up from March to December 2022. At these checkpoints, information points (Blue Dots) were implemented by UNHCR and UNICEF with the implementing partners Save the Children, Arci , D.i.r.e, Stella Polare (only in Fernetti), Terres des Hommes (only in Ugovizza -Tarvisio). At the same borders, UNHCR and Save the Children provided a brochure in Ukrainian, Russian and English informing about the right to asylum and to temporary protection.
Content of temporary protection
- Residence permit: Starting from 11 March 2022, Italian Questure (provincial police offices) were entitled to release receipts for those coming from Ukraine who requested temporary protection. These receipts, free of charge, immediately indicated the tax code, gave access to the national health service, allowed work and were proof that the holder applied to obtain Temporary Protection in Italy. The first permit to stay for Temporary Protection indicated the wording “ Temporanea Emerg. Ucraina” and was valid for one year, from 4 March 2022 to 4 March 2023. After that date the validity of that permit has been extended until 31 December 2023.