Italy: Constitutional Court rules on the refusal to allow applicants of international protection to register their residence in local municipalities

Friday, July 31, 2020

On 31 July 2020, the Constitutional Court published its judgment (No. 186/2020) concerning the refusal to allow individuals waiting for a final decision on their asylum status to register their residence with the local municipality.

The judgment addresses the Constitutional legitimacy of Article 4 of Legislative Decree 18 Aug 2015 No.142, transposing Directive 2013/33, which outlines the rules for applicants of international protection to register their residence with local municipalities. The appellant seeks to ascertain, inter alia, whether the refusal to register personal data is in violation of the principle of non-discrimination between those awaiting a final decision on their status and Italian citizens and any other foreign nationals regularly resident in Italian territory.

The precariousness of the length of stay on Italian territory was cited as justification for differential treatment. However, the Court underlined, inter alia, that the presence of individuals who applied for asylum on the territory cannot be considered precarious because the average length of stay was determined to be at least one year and a half. 

While there may be a need for the control and monitoring of the residence of foreign nationals on the territory, any difference in treatment between those with undefined status and other foreign nationals and Italian citizens must not be unreasonable. Indeed, by denying registration to those who have habitual residence, the Decree Law No.142 results in an unreasonable difference in treatment between individuals seeking international protection and other foreign nationals without justification. Such a difference in treatment may result in various challenges including, inter alia, the social stigma of exclusion and the impossibility to access key services. The Constitutional Court therefore concluded that depriving asylum applicants the legal recognition of their status as residents unreasonably affects their social dignity, protected under Article 3 of the Italian Constitution. It therefore declared Article 4 Decree Law 18 Aug 2015 No.142 to be constitutionally illegitimate.

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.

Photo: Ph. Luca Perri, September 2013, Flickr (CC)

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Residence document