Italy’s record on accession to relevant human rights instruments is relatively good, although it has not acceded to the European Convention on Nationality. 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 protections in the judicial procedure but few in the administrative one. Protection during the procedure is also limited although there are appeal rights and 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 but 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 is a lack of concrete action to reduce the risk. Revocation provisions in nationality law could lead to a new risk of statelessness.
Daniela Di Rado, Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (CIR) and Agnese Zucca (on Detention Theme)