Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions

Italy

Country Report: Criteria and restrictions to access reception conditions Last updated: 03/06/21

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The Reception Decree sets out the reception standards for third-country nationals making an application for international protection on the territory, including at the borders and in the transit zones or in Italian territorial waters.[1]

It provides that reception conditions apply from the moment destitute applicants have manifested their willingness to make an application for international protection,[2] without conditioning the access to the reception measures upon additional requirements.[3] Destitution is evaluated by the Prefecture on the basis of the annual social income (assegno sociale annuo).[4]

In practice, the assessment of financial resources is not carried out by the Prefectures, which to date have considered the self-declarations made by the asylum seekers as valid. However, during 2018 in Pordenone, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the Prefecture started to claim that asylum seekers were not destitute and thereby to deny access to accommodation even to vulnerable people. This was the case, for example, for two asylum seekers from Armenia, one of them over the age of 65. In both cases the Prefecture held that the expensive journey they undertook to arrive in Italy showed they had sufficient resources to sustain themselves, and in one case took the disability pension received by the applicant in Armenia as a basis for denying reception. The Administrative Court of Friuli-Venezia Giulia held that no assessment of resources had been actually done by the Prefecture, considering the reference to the minimum invalidity pension and to the cost of the travel insufficient as a ground to decide that there was no need to be accommodated.[5] After this decision, the Prefecture accepted to revoke the second denial of access to accommodation in self-defence, as it was unable to demonstrate the absence of destitution.

 

Reception and obstacles to access to the procedure

 

According to the practice recorded in recent years and continuing in 2019, even though by law asylum seekers are entitled to material reception conditions immediately after claiming asylum and undergoing initial registration (fotosegnalamento), they may access accommodation centres only after their claim has been lodged (verbalizzazione). This implies that, since the verbalizzazione can take place even months after the presentation of the asylum application, asylum seekers can face obstacles in finding alternative temporary accommodation solutions. Due to this issue, some asylum seekers lacking economic resources are obliged to either resort to friends or to emergency facilities, or to sleeping rough.[6]

As reported by MSF in February 2018, at least 10,000 persons were excluded from the reception system, among whom asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection. Informal settlements with limited or no access to essential services are spread across the entire national territory, namely Ventimiglia, Turin, Como, Bolzano, Udine, Gorizia, Pordenone, Rome, Bari and Sicily.[7]

Recent examples of asylum seekers facing obstacles to accessing accommodation include the following:

Campania: as of 4 October 2019, the Administrative Tribunal of Campania accepted the appeal lodged by an Afghan citizen who had asked accommodation since March 2019 without receiving any answer from the Prefecture of Naples.[8] As of 29 October 2019, the Prefecture of Naples notified the applicant the accommodation provided for him.

Lombardy: an Afghan citizen who was waiting to be accommodated for more that one month after the formalization of his asylum application, lodged an appeal against the administrative silence of the Prefecture of Milan. The Administrative Tribunal of Lombardy, as of 17 December 2019, accepted the appeal and ordered the Prefecture to give an answer to the applicant’s accommodation request within 30 days.[9]

Despite the aforementioned cases, the full extent of this phenomenon is not known, since no statistics are available on the number of asylum seekers who have no immediate access to a reception centre after the fotosegnalamento. Moreover, the waiting times between the fotosegnalamento and verbalizzazione differ between Questure, depending inter alia on the number of asylum applications handled by each office (see Registration).

 

Reception at second instance

 

With regard to appellants, the Reception Decree provides that accommodation is ensured until a decision is taken by the Territorial Commission and, in case of rejection of the asylum application, until the expiration of the timeframe to lodge an appeal before the Civil Court. When the appeal has automatic suspensive effect, accommodation is guaranteed to the appellant until the first instance decision taken by the Court.

However, when appeals have no automatic suspensive effect, the applicant remains in the same accommodation centre until a decision on the suspensive request is taken by the competent judge. If this request is positive, the applicant remains in the accommodation centre where he or she already lives.[10] Where the appeal is made by an applicant detained in a CPR requesting the suspensive effect of the order, in case it is accepted by the judge, the person remains in the CPR or, if the detention grounds are no longer valid, he or she is transferred to governmental reception centres.[11]

The amendments made by Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018, on the exclusion from suspensive effect during the appeal for some asylum applications or the requirement to request explicitly in some cases the suspensive effect such as for Subsequent Applications, had an impact on reception. In Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in February 2019, people notified of an inadmissibility decision received on the same day a decision of withdrawal of reception conditions and an expulsion order.

As regards reception during onward appeals, following Decree Law 13/2017, implemented by L 46/2017, the withdrawal of accommodation to asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected at first appeal has become very common. Usually the applicant does not quickly obtain suspensive effect, which has also become extremely difficult to get (see Regular Procedure: Appeal).

 


[1] Article 1(1) Reception Decree.

[2] Article 1(2) Reception Decree.

[3] Article 4(4) Reception Decree.

[4] Article 14(1) and (3) Reception Decree. For the year 2018, the amount corresponded to €5,889 and for 2019 to €5,953.87.

[5]  Administrative Court of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Decision 184/2018, 23 May 2018.

[6] For more information, see MSF, Fuori campo, February 2018, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2Gagwa2; Fuori campo, March 2016, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/2letTQd, 11; ANCI et al., Rapporto sulla protezione internazionale in Italia, 2014, available in Italian at: http://bit.ly/15k6twe, 124.

[7] MSF, Fuori campo, February 2018, 2, 36.

[8] Administrative Tribunal of Campania, 4 October 2019, decision 4738/2019, available in Italian at : https://bit.ly/3cZoWSx.

[9] Administrative Tribunal of Lombardy, 17 december 2019, decision 2724/2019, available in Italian at : https://bit.ly/3c40wWZ.

[10] Article 14(4) Reception Decree.

[11] Article 14(5) 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