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Italy: new asylum law in danger?

Briefing notes

Italy: new asylum law in danger?

16 February 2001

After more than three years of parliamentary debate on a new asylum bill, Italy risks remaining without comprehensive legislation on this important issue unless the final stages of parliamentary discussions are initiated within the next week.

The asylum bill was presented by the Government to the Parliament back in early 1997 and was approved by the Senate in November 1998. However, more than two years later it is still pending in the Chamber of Deputies.

UNHCR is concerned that time is now running out, and that a very important opportunity may be squandered. Parliamentary elections are due in the spring. In order for the bill to be adopted by both branches of the Parliament during this legislative period, it has to be discussed by the Chamber of Deputies within the next week. If it fails to pass during this parliamentary session, the asylum bill would be back to square one, and it might take several more years until Italy has adequate legislation on this increasingly important issue.

The lack of comprehensive asylum legislation in Italy is not only causing hardship for asylum seekers and refugees, but is also creating significant practical problems for the police and local authorities.

The adoption of the asylum bill would represent a necessary and important step towards the creation of an asylum system in Italy that is in line with European standards.