Vulnerable asylum seekers returned to Italy risk inadequate reception facilities

It is arbitrary how vulnerable asylum seekers transferred to Italy are received upon arrival. That’s among the conclusions in a new report from the Swiss Refugee Council and the Danish Refugee Council, just released. This means states transferring vulnerable asylum seekers to Italy infringe on their obligations under European and international law – and risk exposing asylum seekers to indignity.


The 13 case studies in the report show that it is arbitrary how vulnerable asylum seekers transferred to Italy are received upon arrival, despite the guarantees provided by the Italian authorities following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Tarakhel v. Switzerland.

The experiences of the participating asylum seekers show that they risk being unable to access reception conditions in Italy. When vulnerable Dublin returnees do access reception conditions, these are often far from adequate to meet their special reception needs and they risk losing the right to accommodation without due consideration of their vulnerable situation.

Following the cases documented through the monitoring project, the Danish Refugee Council and the Swiss Refugee Council find that it is clear, that there is a real risk of vulnerable Dublin returnees not being provided with adequate reception conditions upon arrival in Italy, exposing them to a risk of ill-treatment.

Among the cases are a 33-year old female victim of physical and psychological violence having to sleep on the streets after being transferred back to Italy from Denmark – after she had previously fled from her husband and her own family to avoid the risk of honor killing following a miscarriage.

Another case is a single mother with four minor children aged 3, 5, 10 and 12, and one daughter aged 18, suffering from a nervous disorder. After being sent back and forth to different places in Italy, she finally understood that she and her children had lost the right to accommodation as they had previously left Italy after applying for asylum.

The risk that the fundamental rights of Dublin returnees will be violated upon return to Italy has only increased following the changes to the Italian reception system introduced by the Salvini Decree, which entered into force on 5 October 2018 and which significantly affects the Italian reception system for the worse.

Finally, the experiences of the monitored vulnerable Dublin returnees emphasize that Member States must abide by their obligations under the Dublin III Regulation to ensure that the special needs of Dublin returnees are adequately addressed following a Dublin transfer to the responsible Member State.

Read the full report here: