The updated Country Report on Italy provides a detailed analysis of legislative developments introduced by Decree Law 113/2018, implemented by L 132/2018, as well as practice relating to asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention and content of protection.

Among other elements, the 2018 reform has codified the concept of internal protection alternative for the first time in Italian law. In addition, the humanitarian protection status, frequently granted before the 2018 law reform, has been abolished. The Territorial Commissions may only refer the applicant to the Ministry of Interior for certain national statuses.

Asylum procedure: The 2018 reform has established a border procedure applicable at border areas and in transit zones, which applies to persons apprehended after evading or attempting to evade border controls and to persons coming from a safe country of origin. Several elements of the procedure appear to be incompatible with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive.

It has also introduced an “immediate procedure” for persons under criminal investigation where grounds for detention apply, or for persons subject to a non-definitive conviction for crimes involving acts which may trigger exclusion from international protection. During appeals in the immediate procedure, suspensive effect is not granted, nor can it be requested. Therefore the procedure appears to be incompatible with the recast Asylum Procedures Directive.

Moreover, the 2018 reform has removed the possibility to obtain suspensive effect in appeals against the rejection of subsequent applications. It has also introduced the possibility of automatically declaring inadmissible a subsequent application made “during the execution phase of a removal procedure”. This has led to subsequent applications being automatically dismissed by Territorial Commissions but also directly by Questure.

In practice, obstacles to access to the asylum procedure continued to be reported in 2018. Different Questure prevented people from registering an application for reasons such as: limited opening days or hours; unlawful requirement of a domicile; proof of family links with children through documents or DNA tests. Several Civil Court rulings in 2018 have found such obstacles unlawful and have ordered Questure to allow the registration of applications.

The procedure for notification of Territorial Commission interview appointments and decisions, introduced by L 46/2017 but suspended by a CNDA Circular, is implemented in practice as of 25 October 2018. The procedure enables notification to be carried out by managers of reception and detention centres, and alternatively by the transmission of the act to the Questura. This has created problems, with persons moved between reception centres only finding out about their interview appointment after the date of the interview.

Reception conditions: The reform has deeply reformed the reception system, drastically separating the reception paths of asylum seekers from those of protection holders and preventing asylum seekers from accessing second-line reception in the former SPRAR system, now renamed SIPROIMI. Asylum seekers, including Dublin returnees, can be now accommodated only in first reception centres and in CAS.

The services provided in these centres, already “essential” or “basic” according to previous legislation, are now almost eliminated by the tender specifications scheme adopted by the Ministry of Interior under the latest tender specifications scheme (Capitolato) on 21 November 2018. The 2018 Capitolato also considerably lowers the fee paid to managing bodies, de factoforcing the closure of small structures and encouraging the reception of asylum seekers in large facilities.

With regard to Dublin returnees, the Dublin Unit issued a Circular to other Member States’ Dublin Units on 8 January 2019, informing them that families with minor children are no longer subject to specific reception arrangements, and are to be accommodated similar to all other asylum seekers.

In 2018, different Prefectures continued to withdraw reception conditions on the basis of violations of house rules without adequate justification or proportionality, including in several cases against asylum seekers who participated in protests against the conditions in reception centres. Several appeals before the Administrative Courts have been successful. On 26 September 2018, the Administrative Court of Tuscany asked the CJEU to ascertain whether violations of general rules of the domestic legal system, not specifically laid down in the house rules of the reception centres, can constitute serious violations of the house rules for the purpose of withdrawing reception conditions.

Detention of asylum seekers: The 2018 reform has introduced a new detention ground for persons held in hotspots and first reception centres for the purposes of establishing or verifying identity or nationality, which is potentially applicable to most, if not all, asylum seekers.

Content of international protection: The 2018 reform has also introduced an additional requirement for obtaining nationality. Naturalisation is conditional upon proof of good knowledge of the Italian language of at least B1 level, attested through specific certifications or through the qualification in an educational institution recognised by the Ministry of Education. The amended Citizenship Act has also extended the non-binding deadline for completing the naturalisation procedure to 48 months.

The list of offences resulting in exclusion or revocation of international protection has been extended.

*This information was first published by AIDA managed by ECRE

This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin . You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.