The (mis)identification of stateless asylum-seekers in the Italian asylum procedure

In line with international and regional refugee law, the Italian Legislative Decree No. 251/2007 foresees the possibility of stateless persons being beneficiaries of international protection. While the formal determination of statelessness pertains to the existing statelessness determination procedures, it is paramount that stateless/at risk of statelessness asylum applicants be promptly identified in the context of the asylum procedure. This piece focuses on the identification of stateless persons in the Italian asylum system and presents some preliminary results of my ongoing PhD research. Drawing on a review of primary and secondary sources, as well as questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with asylum authorities, lawyers, staff of UNHCR and national NGOs, it argues that stateless persons who apply for international protection in Italy too often remain unidentified. The contribution examines some of the obstacles to their identification and discusses possible avenues for improvement.

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Cecilia is a PhD candidate in Law at the University of Sussex. Her research focuses on the identification of stateless asylum-seekers in Europe, with a particular focus on the cases of Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. Before joining the University of Sussex, Cecilia worked for several years in refugee protection and statelessness prevention and eradication with UNHCR and different NGOs in Italy, the Middle East, and Africa, and conducted research on smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons with UNODC.