What are your fundamental rights as a migrant and an asylum seeker in Italy and in Europe?
not to be returned to a country where you might be victim of persecutions and discriminations;
to stay in Italy (and therefore not to be expelled) if you are part of “vulnerable groups” (minors, pregnant women, people with disabilities, victims of severe psychological, physical or sexual violences, victims of human trafficking, or if you are a parent of a child younger than six months);
to have free access to basic medical care and a complete health screening; women, minors and people with physical and/or mental disabilities are entitled to special and free assistance;
in reception centres to have food and water at least three times a day and to be housed in places that are adequately equipped and not overcrowded;
to receive essential information - in a language that you understand – on: your rights, how to apply for asylum, updates about your application and details about the centre and the area where you are staying;
to have a written copy of all important documents you receive, to understand what is written in these documents and to refuse to sign documents that you can’t understand;
to contact, by phone or internet, your relatives and friends in your home country or in Italy and Europe and to meet a cultural and linguistic mediator;
if necessary, to ask for a lawyer who can support you;
to have your personal liberty and not to suffer any kind of physical and/or verbal violence;
to be able to always be together with your closest relatives (right to “family unity”);
if you are a woman or a couple with children, to stay in specific places where you can receive the support and services you need;
if you are an unaccompanied minor, to stay in a specific place and to have a “guardian”, to be enrolled in the national health service, to have free legal protection and to go to school;
if you are a victim of human trafficking, to report those who exploit you and to be included in a special programme for protection, general support and social inclusion;
free legal support (with “gratuito patrocinio”)
The request for international protection (protezione internazionale) or political asylum (asilo politico)
According to Italian and European regulations, you can obtain a permit of stay (permesso di soggiorno in Italian language) through a request for international protection (protezione internazionale in Italian language) also called political asylum (asilo politico).
The asylum request can be made by anyone, at any time.
According to the Geneva Convention you can make a request for international protection if you were a victim or if you fear that you will become a victim of violence, persecution, threats and, in general, violations of your fundamental rights in your country of origin for reasons related to ethnicity, religion, nationality, membership of a social group, or because of your political opinions; or if your country is involved in an international armed conflict or internal armed conflict or if there are risks of being condemned, killed or tortured or exposed to inhuman or degrading treatment if you come back to your country of origin. You can do the request for international protection with the so-called “manifestazione di volontà” that is saying or writing (in a language you know) that you wish to apply for international protection (political asylum) explaining briefly why you are in danger in your country.
But remember that your asylum application is formalized only after you receive and complete the C3 form (modello C3). Once you have formalized your application for asylum, you will be granted a “6 month permit of stay for the request for international protection” and with this permit you have the right to work after 2 months of continuous stay in Italy. For more information read CHAPTER 5.
If you are stopped by the police and you just arrived, you have to ask immediately what your rights are, ask for an interpreter and declare, if this is your will, that you want to request international protection (or political asylum, asilo politico in Italian language). Your application can never be rejected by the police; if they prevent you from asking for asylum, write on a sheet of paper your general information, date and city where you are and, in capital letters, the words: “CHIEDO ASILO” (“I ask for asylum”) and your signature and then take a picture of this sheet and send it to local associations and/or to your contacts. After this declaration you can ask to contact a lawyer and a mediator (you can be helped by contacts listed in CHAPTER 6).
IMPORTANT! Do not respond to possible provocations by police!
If you arrived from a country that is not your country of origin called “third country” (Paese terzo) you have the right to request international protection if there are serious humanitarian reasons, i.e. if an internal or international conflict is going on or has recently ended or where you have suffered inhuman and degrading treatments anyway. In these cases, obtaining a form of international protection is difficult because of the restrictive laws in Italy and Europe in spite of the fact that European Union and Italy provide with the possibility of issuing a temporary permit of stay for humanitarian reasons.
Please bear in mind that poverty, economic and/or environmental problems and your willingness to find a job in Italy are not valid reasons to ask for international protection.
IMPORTANT! The Italian police and members of the European agencies (such as Frontex and Europol) might ask you some trick questions to qualify you as an “economic migrant” rather than an “asylum seeker”. If they ask you, for example: “why did you come to Italy?” and you answer “to work” they prevent you from apply for political asylum. Italian and European authorities are also using, in places where migrants arrive, a form which does not clearly state that applying for asylum is possible, whilst the other options are written very clearly (such as “work” and “reunification with family”). First of all remember that you can always ask for international protection and remember to say and/or write briefly why you can’t go back to your country.
IMPORTANT! Keep all your personal documents and remember that you have the right to understand all documents that you are given. If you do not understand the documents, you have the right not to sign them; you also have the right to have a copy of all documents for yourself.
Information about European Agencies FRONTEX and EASO
Frontex is the European Union agency responsible for controlling the EU’s external borders. Its aim is not to offer you support and it is not an NGO but a control agency. What you say to the Frontex members will be communicated by them to the Italian police and to the police of other European countries.
The members of the European agency Frontex operate mainly in the “hotspots” (see paragraph 3.2) where they monitor the registration and identification procedures. The main objective of Frontex is to manage migration flows and control external borders from irregular entries.
Frontex also has as one of its objectives to organise, coordinate and carry out return, expulsion and repatriation operations and interventions.
EASO is an european asylum support agency. Among its main objectives, Easo facilitates the exchange of information on countries of origin, providing member states with assistance on information on countries of origin and supporting in the management of asylum applications.
The staff of Easo is present both at the main Police Headquarters and at the offices of the Territorial Commissions. The operators and interpreters at the police headquarters are mainly responsible for supporting the work of the police by helping with the compilation and recording of asylum applications, while the staff working in the Territorial Commissions aims to do research on the country of origin and verify what you will tell during the interview in front of the Territorial Commission preparing reports and research for members of the Commission.
What happens when you arrive? How, when and where do you get identified and registered?
As soon as you arrive in Italy, the first procedure will usually be to make your identification (identificazione): the police take a picture of you, register your personal data (name and surname, place and date of birth) and take your fingerprints (impronte digitali). The identification occurs when a migrant applies for asylum, when s/he is stopped by the police when entering Italy without regular documentation, or when s/he is rescued at sea. They can identify you when you arrive - by sea or by land - or during your stay in a reception centre.
IDENTIFICATION AND FINGERPRINTING PROCEDURES
Compared with previous years the number of migrants identified with the complete standard procedure (with the inclusion in the EURODAC database) increased significantly reaching almost 100%. The new decree-law provides that the repeated refusal to undergo fingerprinting constitutes a risk of absconding and legitimises detention in a CPR (a repatriation center where you can be detained in administrative detention).
If you are a victim of physical and / or psychological violence during identification and fingerprinting procedures, collect evidences (such as phots and videos) and contact the organizations in (see CONTACTS section).
THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF REGISTRATION
The official and most frequent registration and identification procedure is the “complete” one, which consists of “police description” (fotosegnalamento, a picture of your face), delivery of an “identification number” and fingerprinting of all of your fingers. According to this procedure, you automatically enter the EURODAC system, the European fingerprints database of those who apply for asylum in the European Union, which is strictly related to the “Dublin Regulation” (read CHAPTERS 4 and 5).
IMPORTANT! Fingerprinting can not be demanded for children under 14 years.
As an alternative to this ”official” identification procedure, in certain situations and places of arrival in Italy, only an initial “simple” identification takes place. In this case they take a picture of you (“photosignalling”), create an “identification number” and in some cases they take the fingerprint of your thumb.
We are not able to tell you where and when you might be identified with the “simple” procedure: it is a discretionary practice which depends on the time, the place and the orders that the police receives as well as on the nationality of the migrants. According to the latest information we have collected, it seems that this type of identification is becoming less and less frequent compared with the “complete” one.
ATTENTION! It may be the case that the police or the members of European agencies (Frontex and Europol) guarantee and “promise” you that your fingerprints will not be recorded in the EURODAC system, but this does not prevent you from actually being recorded in the EURODAC system.
IMPORTANT! The identification procedures can never violate your fundamental human rights, the police are therefore not allowed to force you by using violence and/or threats to take your fingerprints (impronte digitali) or to carry out any other identification procedure, and they cannot deprive you of your freedom for the mere purpose of identification. If you refuse to be identified you can be detained for your identification but only for a maximum of 12 hours. If the identification is particularly complex, the longest detention time becomes 24 hours, but you have the right to alert your family or cohabitant (even somebody not from your family) and you have the right to ask that the Public Prosecutor (Pubblico Ministero) will be informed immediately by police so you can be sure to be released after the maximum period of 24 hours.
REMEMBER that if you refuse to have the “police description” by passive resistance - that is without using force or threats - you commit a minor offence which carries a penalty of a fine up to 206 euros and for this crime an immediate arrest is never the case. Therefore, if the police use force (such as grabbing arm or hand, pushing, taking off clothing, etc.) against a person who resists passively against forced identification, the police are committing crimes called “personal violence” and bodily injury (if any injuries are sustained).
Body inspections made against your will or any form of torture and/or physical and psychological injuries are never permitted (but remember that, if you wriggle trying to free yourself, your behaviour could be interpreted by police as “resisting a public official” which is a more serious crime). Anyone who is subjected to or is informed about a forced identification that violates the above described rules, can report it to the police or directly to the Prosecutor’s Office (Procura della Repubblica).
IMPORTANT! If you are a victim of threats and violence, collect evidence (including pictures and videos), ask for medical assistance and contact the associations listed in CONTACTS section
An application for international protection can be made by anyone who has suffered from or who is at risk of violence, persecution, threats and, in general, violations of their fundamental rights in their country of origin for reasons of ethnicity, religion, nationality, belonging to a social group (e.g. on sex, gender, sexual orientation, family, culture, education, occupation), political opinion, if your country is involved in an international armed conflict or internal armed conflict, or if, in case you return to your country, there are risks of being condemned, killed or tortured or exposed to inhuman or degrading treatment that violate your freedom and your dignity.
How, when and where can you apply for international protection?
Remember that EVERYONE can file an application for international protection in every moment through the “manifestazione di volontà” (stating that you wish to ask for political asylum); you can do this either verbally in your language or in a language you know or in writing it on a paper but remember in any case that your application for international protection is formalized only after you receive and complete the C3 form (“modello C3”) of which you must have a receipt or a copy. From the moment you obtain the permit as asylum seeker until the decision of the Territorial Commission, you are not allowed to leave Italy. An application for international protection (asylum) is an individual process (if you are a parent, your application includes your minor children present in Italy). Applications must be made to the border police (polizia di frontiera) on arrival in Italy by crossing the border by land or sea, or to the Immigration Police (Ufficio Immigrazione di Polizia) near you if you are already in Italy. When you apply for asylum you need to explain the reasons why you are at risk in your country. REMEMBER that poverty and/or your desire to find a job in Italy are not valid reasons to ask for international protection.
What is the procedure to apply for international protection?
According to Italian law, if you entered Italy without a regular Visa, you will need to be identified before applying for asylum. Usually, when you arrive, there is a police officer who will take a picture of you and take your fingerprints (these procedures are called fotosegnalamento and rilievi dattiloscopici); please read paragraph 3.1. When you apply for international protection, you receive a document which details the date of your appointment to formalise your application for international protection. This is done by filling out the “C3 form”.
WARNING! When you disembark or when you go to the Police Headquarters for your asylum request, you will be asked some questions (name, surname, place of origin, date of birth). They will also ask you the reason for your arrival in Italy. This data is used to compile a news sheet (preidentification). If it is indicated that you are in Italy to work you can receive an expulsion order.
REMEMBER: according to the law, the formalisation of your application must be done within one week from the day you go for the first time to the Immigration Office (Questura). In reality it can take you 3 – 4 months before you are able to formalise your application.
You will be asked for some personal information (name, date and place of birth, nationality, details about family), your documents, your case, your journey from your country to Italy and why you left your country. In any case, it is better if you reports only the essential data and information specifically requested. You can attach to ” C3 form” a sheet detailing your case and all documents in your possession (e.g. passport, ID card, etc). The police will keep the original version of the C3 form and give you a copy to keep with you. At the end of this procedure, the police issues a receipt (“ricevuta”), meaning that you are waiting for confirmation of asylum seeker status, which is usually released after 30 days. Once C3 form has been completed and processed, you receive a “permit of stay as asylum seeker”, which lasts for 6 months and with this permit of stay you have the right to work after two months from the issue date.
- When you fill out C3 form, explain clearly and concisely why you are asking for political asylum;
- immediately after you arrive in Italy, communicate your personal details and your phone number to acquaintances and/or friends with residence in Italy or Europe who can help you if you are in need;
- the waiting time for the hearing in the Commission is not clearly defined. It usually ranges from 6 to 12 months and depends on the Commission that will evaluate your application and on the number of applicants waiting;
- If someone cannot read and/or write, s/he can inform officials or the police;
- remember that you have the right to have a translator that speaks your language. If there is no translator you have the right to ask for another appointment;
- When verbalizing your C3 form, you must give the police your address, where you will be sent all communications relating to your request for international protection. Inform the police whenever you change address;
- Always keep copies of all the documents that you submit to the police headquarters, the Prefecture and the Commission and all the memos that you receive from these authorities.
What are your rights as an applicant for international protection?
- all rights listed at the beginning of this guide in paragraph 1.1;
- right to remain in the Italian territory until your application has been assessed by the Territorial Commission and, in case of rejection of your asylum request (diniego in Italian language) until the final decision is taken in response to the appeal (ricorso);
- right to be admitted to a reception centre for asylum seekers with accommodation, meals and all the necessary facilities until you meet the Commission and until the final decision in case of an appeal against the rejection;
- right to have a sociocultural mediator and/or an interpreter to whom you can speak in your native language about your situation;
- right to contact UNHCR and NGOs and organisations concerned with protection of asylum seekers and migrants in general.
- the right to the ”codice fiscale”, which allows you to subscribe to the national health service and have access to health care (vedi URL>medical);
- right to work (2 months after the first permit of stay has been issued, if you are still waiting for the hearing of the Commission).
- the right to have legal assistance during the entire procedure for requesting international protection.
How do you prepare your personal story (memoria)?
Your request for international protection will be evaluated by a specific organ called the Territorial Commission (”Commissione Territoriale”), which is usually found in the city or region where you are situated (the Questura will inform you about the date of the audition in the Commission). It is very important for you to be well prepared for the hearing. You must try to be as precise and clear as possible. A lawyer or a social worker at the reception centre where you are staying will help you to write your case (called “memoria”) and will send it to the Territorial Commission.
How to prepare your story in the best way:
first you have to state your home country and your citizenship, your place and date of birth and your place of residence, years of schooling and education, your work, who your parents are, if you have a husband/wife and children; your ethnicity, your religion and if you belong to a social group or political party;
explain why you had to flee and give details about all the violence you suffered and the problems you were confronted with (e.g. prison, torture, violence, abuse, rape, mutilation, female genital mutilation or similar, threats, forced marriage, etc …). Also mention if somebody in your family has experienced similar problems.
then explain how you escaped, the countries you passed through, the transport you used, how much you had to pay, imprisonment, torture and threats that you suffered in countries you travelled through, traffickers and the payment for crossing and if you saw people die on your journey; then specify why you cannot go back to your country, the concrete risks to you, laws and/or practices in your country that violate your rights and your freedom and why you cannot ask the police or family members for help ; remember to mention also if you are still in contact with someone in your home country.
Remember that during the hearing of the Commission an interpreter will help you but before starting the hearing make sure that there is a good understanding between you.
Starting from the moment you apply for international protection, it’s important that you manage to produce all the personal documents in your possession (letters, identity card, certificates, etc) that can be used as a prove of what you say and of the reasons why you are in danger in your country (you can ask relatives and friends in your country to send you these documents). You can ask your relatives and friends to send you a letter that you can also use as an evidence about the reasons for your escape (and remember to keep the envelope of the letter to prove its authenticity). You can prepare other kinds of documents such as medical report and certificates in Italy. You can send these documents to the commission before the hearing, however it’s important that the day of the hearing you bring with you all the documents you have and you give them to the authorities.
What decision can the Commission take?
By law, the Commission shall decide within six months (or up to nine or twelve months in exceptional
cases). The Commission may decide to:
recognize you refugee status or subsidiary protection issuing a 5 year permit of stay (renewable on each expiration) and a 5 year travel document;
refuse to recognize international protection but request the Police Department to give you a 2 year permit of stay for humanitarian reasons (renewable on each expiration after a new Commission evaluation) and a 2 year travel document;
refuse to recognize international protection and reject your request giving you an expulsion order from Italian territory within 30 days; in this case, contact a lawyer to submit an appeal;
reject your request for clear lack of of foundation when it considers evident the lack of existence of any requirement for recognition of international protection or the fact that you have presented the request with the sole purpose of delaying or preventing an expulsion; in this case, contact a lawyer to submit an appeal.
Some asylum seekers whose application has been rejected as “manifestly unfounded” (“per manifesta
infondatezza”) are involved in an “accelerated procedure” and in such situation they have only half of the
time available (15 instead of 30 days) to appeal against the denial.
IMPORTANT! If you were recognised refugee status, subsidiary protection or humanitarian protection, and if you have the electronic permit of stay and the travel document, you have the right to move freely within the territory of the European Union (except Denmark, Great Britain and Ireland) without visas for a maximum period of three months but only if you are economically self-sufficient (ie if you have enough money to eat and to pay a place to sleep).
IMPORTANT! The new Italian law (February 2017) has made it more difficult to appeal in court and there will be less chances to meet personally the judge who will decide your case (that is to have an oral hearing). Besides it, has eliminated the possibility of appeal against the first denial (diniego) by the Court (there will be only the chance to appeal to the Court of Cassation but it will be very difficult).
Abolition of humanitarian protection
IMPORTANT! According to new “Security Decree” (year 2019) the humanitarian protection (the two-year protection that could be recognized by the Territorial Commission following an application for international protection) is abolished. New typologies of short-term residence permits (6 months or one year) have been introduced for “special protection”, “natural disasters in the country of origin”, “medical care”, “specific acts of civic values” and for other “special cases” (domestic violence, social protection, labor exploitation). Some permits will be requested directly to the “Questore” (the local police commissioner).
Furthermore, the “Security Decree” introduces new criteria to consider a request of international protection/political asylum as “manifestly unfounded” (namely groundless): notable among these the requests of international protection made by those who “entered the country illegally or illegally extended their stay and, without justified reasons, did not submit an immediate request”.
For more information you can read and download the info leaflet on “Security Decree” here: