Italy: misleading statistics reported in the Italian media
The following information on recognition rates in Italy was given in response to a question by a journalist. At the request of journalists attending the press briefing, and given the complexity of the information, we are including the spokesman's response and some additional information in this briefing note.
We understand that some misleading statistics are being reported in the Italian media about the recognition rates of asylum seekers in Italy - namely that around 92 percent of the asylum applications in Italy are rejected, or - to put it another way - only 8 percent are genuine refugees. This is a serious distortion of the true picture.
According to official 2004 statistics from the Italian Central Eligibility Commission (CEC), Italy examined 8,701 asylum applications during the year.
The CEC granted 1951 Convention Refugee Status to 780 applicants (8.96 percent), while 7,921 (91.04 percent) were classified as "rejected" - so these are the figures on which the recent reports are based. But if you delve a little bit deeper into these figures you find a very different picture.
The figure of 7,921 "rejected cases" includes 2,352 people who were in fact granted subsidiary forms of international protection - in other words, people who were judged to be in a refugee-like situation, including people fleeing war and widespread violence etc. So 27.03 percent of the total number of cases examined were granted subsidiary protection, in addition to the 8.96 percent granted 1951 Refugee Convention status.
Thus in total, in 2004, Italy granted some form of international protection to 3,132 people - or 36 percent of the people who lodged asylum claims. What's more, these are first instance decisions only - i.e. these figures do not include people recognized on appeal.
In addition, 2,627 (30.19%) of the total number of asylum seekers for one reason or another did not complete the first instance procedure. They are also classifed as "rejected" - even though a certain proportion of them may well in fact be refugees or people who would qualify for subsidiary protection.
If this group is discounted (because we have no idea whether they are or are not refugees), the number of asylum applications which have been actually examined on their merits by the Commission in 2004 is 6,074. If we calculate the recognition rates on the basis of the number of cases that were actually examined, they would be as follows:
1951 Convention Refugee: 12.8% Subsidiary form of international protection: 38.7%
Thus a total of 51.5% of the asylum applicants whose cases were actually examined on their merits in Italy in 2004 were judged to be in need of international protection. There is a colossal difference between the figure of 8 percent recognition currently being reported in the Italian media, and 51 percent recognition as outlined above (or 36 percent, if you assume that not a single one of those who dropped out of the procedure was actually a refugee).