Overview of the main changes since the previous report update

Italy

Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 20/05/22

Author

The previous report update was published in June 2021.

 

Asylum procedure

  • Access to the territory: For what concerns arrivals at the sea border, Italy continues to play a role in indirect push-backs by providing the Libyan authorities with the means and technologies to improve tracing at sea.[1] In 2021 for the first time, a private boat’s captain (Asso 28) has been sentenced to prison for returning migrants to Libya.[2] In 2021, 67,477 persons disembarked in Italy,[3] almost doubling the number of arrivals of 2020 (34,154) and an even more relevant increase when compared to 2019 (11,471) and 2018 (23,370), but still considerably lower than 2017 (119,369). The main nationality of people disembarked remained Tunisian, who were 15,671 in total. Over 31,500 came from Libya, more than 20,000 from Tunisia, 13,000 from Turkey and 1,500 from Algeria. At least 32,425 persons, in 2021, were returned to Libya (already over 3 thousand as of March 19, 2022).[4]
  • Access to the procedure: Problems continued to be signalled inaccessing the procedure, both at the borders, due to reported pushback practices and to the use of quarantine ships as de facto administrative detention facilities/hotspots,  and in main cities, mainly caused by non-uniform practices in different areas of the country and to  the long waiting time that lodging an application entails.
  • Readmissions: After the Civil Court of Rome declared the informal readmissions procedures carried out to Slovenia were illegal these procedure were suspended at the eastern border of Italy, but similar procedures are still applied at Adriatic ports. At the French borders huge numbers of readmissions and pushbacks are still carried on to Italy.
  • Key asylum statistics: In 2021, 56,388 asylum requests were registered in Italy, compared to 21,200 in 2020. The number of children seeking asylum also increased to 10,053, compared to 4,687 of 2020.[5] The main countries of origin of the applicants were Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Nigeria. 52,987 first instance decisions were issued (compared to 40,800 in 2020). An increase in the recognition of protection statuses was noticed; 44% (compared to 28% in 2020) of these decisions led to a protection status (32% international protection, and 12% special/ protection status).[6]
  • Dublin procedure: In 2021 the situation of Dublin returnees remained uncertain. In December 2021, an Afghan citizen, evacuated from Afghanistan by the Italian authorities, Dublin returnee from France, was notified of an expulsion order once arrived by flight at Venice airport and immediately moved to a CPR.[7] Many Courts have suspended Dublin transfers pending the CJEU’s preliminary ruling raised by several Courts asking to clarify the scope of the sovereignty clause (Article 17(1) of the Dublin Regulation and its application in cases where the non-refoulement principle could be violated and to interpret Articles 4 and 5 of the Dublin regulation clarifying when and whether a violation of information obligations could lead to the cancellation of the transfer decided.[8] The CJEU scheduled the hearing for June 8, 2022.
  • Second instance procedure: The length of judicial procedures due to the accumulated backlog of pending cases and the inadequate destination of resources continues to constitute a problem. The average time for an appeal to be processed reached 3 years in 2021, compared to the 4 months prescribed by law.[9]
  • Response to the situation in Afghanistan: In August 2021, after the takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan, as part of the operation called Aquila Omnia, 4,890 Afghan citizens were evacuated from Afghanistan by the Italian military forces. Among them 1,301 women and 1,453 children.[10] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs spread a note according to which Afghans could ask for a visa based on humanitarian reasons. However, in practice, only a few of these visas were authorised and only in cases where there was a sponsor available to guarantee for accommodation in Italy. Two Afghan citizens at serious risk in their country obtained a humanitarian visa released according to Article 25 of the EU’s Visa Code after an urgent appeal was submitted to the Civil Court of Rome.[11] In October and December 2021, the Government established the activation of 5,000 additional SAI places to meet the need to accommodate Afghan asylum seekers.[12] After August 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spread a note according to which Afghans could obtain family visas by contacting any Italian consular diplomatic representation and allowing them to self-certify the family relationship with their family members in the event of lack of documents to certify it or lacking their legalization.
  • Criminalisation of solidarity: In 2021, some criminal investigations against NGOs working in favor of asylum seekers were closed. This was the case of the investigation for aiding and abetting illegal immigration against Linea d’Ombra, operating in Trieste, accused of hosting and helping a family of asylum seekers who came from the border with Slovenia to reach Milan,[13] and the one started against the activists of Rete Solidale, NGO operating in Pordenone,together with 9 asylum seekers,  accused to have occupied a private parking to help about 70 asylum seekers in need of accommodation.[14] Both were closed in November 2021. The same happened, in January 2022, for Mar Jonio’s tugboat accused of aiding and abetting illegal immigration who rescued and transported 30 migrants in 2019,[15] and for the NGO Baobab  accused of abetting irregular immigration for the help provided to 9 asylum seekers in buying train tickets to reach Ventimiglia, charges that were considered unfounded by the preliminary hearing judge  of the Criminal Court of Rome in a ruling issued at the start of May 2022.[16] However, in 2022, are  still pending a criminal proceeding against 4 Eritreans accused of having helped other Eritreans to reach Ventimiglia and the proceedings opened against Mar Jonio in 2021  accused for taking refugees on board from the Etienne oil tanker and for having accepted a money donation for it.[17]

Reception conditions

  • Extraordinary reception centres: Despite the 2020 reform the accommodation system in Italy remains mainly based on extraordinary centres. By the end of 2021, 7 out of 10 asylum seekers were accommodated in CAS facilities.[18]

 

Detention of asylum seekers

 

  • Hotspots: By the end of 2021, four hotspots were operating in: Apulia (Taranto) and Sicily (Lampedusa, Pozzallo, and Messina). In 2021, ASGI reported many criticalities at the “new border” of Pantelleria, where landed migrants are also channelled in hotspot-like procedures.[19] Concern has been expressed in a 2021 on the lack of gender related measures in the hotspots, specifically regarding Lampedusa hotspot.[20] The Administrative Court of Sicily accepted the appeal presented by ASGI and allowed a delegation of the association to access the Lampedusa hotspot in March 2022.[21]

Content of international protection

  • Family reunification procedures: The Court of Cassation, [22] deciding on the family reunification requested by a refugee for her mother, under 65 years of age, who had another son in her country of origin, stated that the presence of the other son was not decisive in excluding the right to family reunification as the latter could not provide for the financial support of the mother depending on the assistance of the refugee who requested the family reunification.[23]

 

Response to the situation in Ukraine as of 5 May 2022

From 11 March 2022, Questure have been entitled to release receipts for those coming from Ukraine who request temporary protection. These receipts, free of charge, immediately indicate the tax code, give access to the national health service and allow to work.[24] The permit to stay will indicate the wording “Prot. Temporanea Emerg. Ucraina” and it will be valid for one year.[25]

According to the Prime Ministerial Decree signed on 28 March 2022,[26] temporary protection can be recognized to people who were resident in Ukraine before 24 February and who escaped from Ukraine from 24 February and who:

– Are Ukrainians;

– Are Ukrainians’ family members, that means partner, husband or spouse, under age and unmarried children, including children of the spouse. Parents and adult sons can also be entitled to temporary protection in case they totally or partially were depending on their Ukrainians relatives’ assistance;

– Are refugees or stateless persons and held a permit to stay in Ukraine, or are their family members;

– Are third country nationals who were permanently resident in Ukraine.

In case holders of temporary protection apply for international protection, their request will be suspended and examined only after the expiring date of their temporary protection permit to stay.

The Prime Ministerial Decree also states that beneficiaries of international protection cannot ask for temporary protection and for the related benefits.[27]

Regarding access to reception for people fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine, the Government planned two main forms of accommodation measures: on the one hand, it planned to increase places in the reception system (first governmental, CAS and SAI facilities); on the other hand, alternative forms of widespread reception and economic support are foreseen.

DL 16 of 28 February 2022,[28] then transposed into DL 14/2022 converted with modification by L 28/2022, established that people fleeing from Ukraine can access the reception system within the limit of available places and resources,[29] even in case the asylum request has not been submitted or in case it has not been submitted yet.

It also established the ad hoc expansion of 3,000 SAI places, the possibility for people escaped from Ukrainian’s war to access the SAI places activated for Afghans,[30] and the financing of around 5,000 additional places in CAS.[31]

The possibility to use structures already set up for COVID-19 fiduciary isolation is also foreseen,[32]  and, for further reception needs, especially for people in transit, the possibility, for the Presidents of the Regions, to outline the need to prepare further housing solutions to the prefectures.[33]

DL 21 of 21 March 2022, at Article 31 (1) (a), established to define further forms of widespread reception to be implemented in agreement with the Municipalities, and through third sector bodies, volunteer service centres, organizations and associations providing substantial homogeneity of services and costs with the reception system facilities (Cas and first governmental facilities), for a maximum of 15,000 units. On 11 April 2022, the MOI Civil Protection Department published the first notice to collect proposals in implementing such accommodation projects.

DL 21/2022 also defines additional forms of support and assistance to persons entitled to temporary protection who have found autonomous accommodation, for a maximum duration of 90 days, and up to 60,000 units.

People applying for temporary protection and not accessing the public reception system can receive an economic contribution of 300.00 €, more 150.00 € per child up to three months from the date of the temporary protection receipt.[34] On 30 April, the online platform through which temporary protection applicants will be able to request such contribution was opened.[35]

However, a Civil Protection Note issued on 9 May 2022, specified that the economic contribution can be asked only up to 30 September 2022.[36]

In terms of access to the labour market, Decree Law 21/2022 provided for a derogation from the discipline of the recognition of professional health qualifications, stating that public or private health structures can hire with fixed-term contracts Ukrainian doctors, nurses and OSS resident in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 and in possession of the European Qualification passport for refugees.[37]

 

[1] Altreconomia, Nuovi affari dell’Italia sulla frontiera per respingere le persone in Libia, 1 February 2022, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3F35lzE.

[2] Asgi, Condanna di Asso 28, un precedente che può scardinare la prassi dei respingimenti in Libia, 19 october 2021, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3vHe5HF. See also Infomigrants, Ship captain sentenced to prison for returning migrants to Libya, 15 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3vK0b7s.

[3] MOI Data, 31 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3JggFd5.

[4] Altreconomia, Sbarchi, i numeri non tornano. E per il Viminale i naufraghi diventano “persone scortate”, 25 March 2022, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3NsufwE.

[5] MOI Data, 15 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3CHCT5f

[6] Ministry of Interior, Confronto anni 2020-2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3613PRt. Please note that data provided were still provisional.

[7] Altreconomia, “La storia di Abdul, evacuato da Kabul e finito nel Cpr di Gradisca d’Isonzo”, 19 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3w62Av6.

[8] Court of Justice of European Union, joined cases C-228/21, C-254/21, C-297/21, C-315/21, C-328/21.

[9] L. Minnitii, ‘L’ufficio per il processo nelle Sezioni distrettuali specializzate di immigrazione e protezione internazionale: una straordinaria occasione di innovazione a supporto della tutela dei diritti fondamentali degli stranieri’, 28 October 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/37VFUEi.

[10] Il Mattino, Afghanistan, decolla l’ultimo volo italiano da Kabul: conclusa l’evacuazione, rientrano tutti i militari, 27 August 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3FBATgz.

[11] Civil Court of Rome, decision of 21 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3v1Fq6M.

[12] 3,000 places increased by Article 7 (1) DL 139/2021, converted into L 205/2021, as modified by Article 5 quater (5) DL 14/2022 converted into L 28/2022 and also 2,000 places according to Article 3(4) DL 16/2022, modifyng Article 1 (390) L 234/2021, later transposed in DL 14/2022 as modified by Article 5 quater (6) DL 14/2022 converted into L 28/2022.

[13] See Asgi, La solidarietà non è reato, archiviate le accuse per i volontari di Trieste”, 26 November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/36JF7FE.

[14] See Meltingpot, Pordenone: non luogo a procedere per le attiviste della Rete solidale e nove richiedenti asilo, 13 November 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3LiCidL.

[15] Il Fatto quotidiano, Migranti, archiviata dal gip l’indagine sulla Mare Jonio che salvò 30 migranti, 28 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3t9NxyI.

[16] Ansa, Migranti: assolto il presidente di Baobab, 3 May 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/39HDjy4. See also Roma today, Baobab, il presidente rischia fino a 18 anni per favoreggiamento dell’immigrazione clandestina, 19 April 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3kp6qZ9.

[17] Redattore sociale, Hanno aiutato i connazionali in Italia, quattro eritrei a processo: “Reato di solidarietà”, 10 Marzo 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3xQAdlx.

[18] Openpolis, Actionaid, available at: https://bit.ly/3OtmuXI.

[19] ASGI, La frontiera di Pantelleria: una sospensione del diritto. Report del sopralluogo giuridico di ASGI, June 2021, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3tcSwyD.

[20] ASGI – InLimine, “A gender perspective on the Lampedusa Hotspot: the systematic and culpable violation of women’s rights”, 3 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3Ia6gOJ.

[21] Asgi, Hotspot di Lampedusa: dal Tar Sicilia ulteriore conferma del principio di accessibilità della società civile ai luoghi di trattenimento, 22 September 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3OQF6kI.

[22] Court of Cassation, decision no. 20127 of 14 July 2021.

[23] Meltingpot, Status di rifugiato e ricongiungimento familiare – La sola presenza di figli nel Paese di origine non esclude l’ingresso del genitore infrasessantacinquenne, available at: https://bit.ly/3xMAplA.

[24] Ordenance of the Head of Civil Protection department no. 872 of 4 March 2022, available in Italian at: https://bit.ly/3k7njY2.

[25] MoI – state police Department, Circular no. 20815 of 10 March 2022 and Article 2 of the Prime Ministeriale Decree of 29 March 2022. According to the MOI circular the permit to stay cannot exceed the date of 4 March 2023.

[26] Article 1 of the Prime Ministerial Decree of 28 March 2022, published on 15 April 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/38Wxyfw.

[27] Ibid. Article 3.

[28] DL 16/2022, Article 3, then repealed and transfused in the DL 14/2022, Article 5 quater as modified by the conversion Law n. 28 of 5 April 2022, without prejudice to all effects, acts and measures adopted in the meantime on the base of DL 16/2022.

[29] See also Article 5 of the Prime Ministerial Decree, 28 March 2022, published on 15 April 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/38Wxyfw.

[30] Article 5 quater DL 14/2022 converted with modifications into L 28/2022.

[31] MOI Circular, 2 March 2022 available at: https://bit.ly/3OiV7zt.

[32] Ordinance of the Head of the Civil Protection no. 872 of 4 March 2022, Article 3 (2), available at: https://bit.ly/3k7njY2.

[33] Ibid. Article 3(4)

[34] Ordinance issued by the Head of the Department of Civil Protection on 29 March 2022, no. 881 of 29 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3LH2VJ0. According to the Article 4 of the ordinance, in the event of finding a job, financial support and hospitality can still be guaranteed for 60 days.

[35] Department of Civil Protection, communication available at: https://bit.ly/3vtsLLy.

[36] Department of Civil Protection, Note no. 30457 of 9 May 2022.

[37] Article 34 DL 21 of 21 March 2022.

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