The Italian Justice Minister has announced in a recent hearing the intention to abolish the second-instance judicial (“onward”) appeal before the Court of Appeal (Corte d’Appello) available to asylum seekers whose appeal against a negative asylum decision has been dismissed.

The Minister noted that the Italian courts have registered 15,008 appeals relating to international protection in the first five months of 2016, the majority being submitted to the Tribunali of Naples and Milan. The average processing time of appeals during that time was reported to be 167 days – less than 6 months. However, information provided by ASGI legal practitioners refers to an average duration of 18 months for first instance judicial appeals.

The reform would in addition bring changes to the first-instance appeal procedure, which would entail a written procedure. The court would have the possibility to access the video recording of the personal interview and would not hold a hearing with the applicant, although this would be provided where deemed necessary.
Civil society organisations, including ECRE members ASGI and CIR, have criticised the compatibility of the proposed reform with the right to an effective remedy, which is guaranteed by the recast Asylum Procedures Directive.

“This proposal goes against the provisions of Italian legislation, which explicitly state that the judge needs to listen to the asylum seekers during appeal procedures and not only a video recording.” The judge is required to ask the applicant questions and examine all elements of the case, explains ASGI Deputy President Gianfranco Schiavone.

For further information:
• ASGI, Asilo: il sistema delle garanzie dovrebbe funzionare al massimo livello, appello incluso, 22 August 2016 (in Italian)
• Internazionale, Cosa prevede la proposta di riforma del diritto d’asilo in Italia, 23 August 2016 (in Italian)

This article will appear in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 2 September 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.