Update from June 2022:
Statistical data from the population census counts 552 stateless people as of 1 January 2020. According to estimates currently available, there are around 3,000 stateless persons or persons at risk of statelessness in Italy. The majority of people who are stateless or at risk of statelessness belong to Roma communities from former Yugoslavia who have been living in Italy for many years (including a large proportion of children).
There were no major legal or policy reforms in 2021 in Italy.
A recent judgment of the Ordinary Court of Florence reaffirmed that the burden of proof on the applicant for statelessness status is mitigated, and any gaps can be filled with the investigative powers of the judge, by requesting information from the public authorities of the State of origin or the State to which a significant connection is detected.
New resources on Italy now available include:
- 2021 Statelessness Index Survey
- Country briefing on access to protection for stateless refugees from Ukraine in Italy (June 2022)
- Third party intervention before the ECtHR on Dabetic v Italy (January 2022)
- Case summaries of judgments from Italian courts are available on the Statelessness Case Law Database
Italy’s record on accession to relevant human rights instruments is relatively good, although it has not acceded to the European Convention on Nationality and it retains a reservation to the 1954 Convention. Some data on people recognised as stateless residing in Italy is publicly available, but the stateless population has not been comprehensively mapped and figures on stateless refugees and detainees are not routinely published. The Italian system provides two possibilities for determining statelessness: an administrative procedure and a judicial one. Access is somewhat limited, particularly in the administrative procedure, and the burden of proof lies with the applicant in the administrative procedure. There are procedural safeguards in the judicial procedure but few in the administrative one. Protection during both procedures is also limited although there are appeal rights. People granted stateless status have a range of rights, including to residence, work, social security, healthcare and education, as well as a reduced residency requirement for naturalisation.
However, there are gaps in safeguards against the arbitrary detention of stateless people, including no requirement for a country of removal to be identified prior to detention and no formal mechanism to refer detainees to a procedure to determine statelessness. There are relatively strong procedural safeguards in the law, but practical barriers hamper access to these. Protections on release are minimal and re-detention is a risk. There are safeguards in law to prevent statelessness, including for otherwise stateless children born in Italy, and children born to Italians abroad; but there are issues with how provisions are implemented in practice. There is a recognised risk of statelessness among Roma populations in Italy, and structures to address it have been established, but there has been a lack of concrete action to reduce the risk to date. Provisions for the deprivation of Italian nationality could lead to statelessness. Children are issued with birth certificates; but parents without legal residence or who lack key documents may face barriers and the procedure for late birth registration is very complex.
Information below by theme was last updated in March 2021.
Daniela Di Rado, Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (CIR) and Claudia Pretto (on Detention Theme)