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“CIR experience at the border points with Dublin cases”

From the final report of “Dubliners” project run by CIR and other 5 organizations (Germany, Greece, Hungary, Spain and Sweden) and 4 Dublin Units (not the German one), “The lack of information  provided to Dubliners is surely one of the most serious problems encountered during the research. Asylum-seekers have often proved to be unaware of what was happening to them, of their rights and of the procedure itself. The issue of information was also problematic regarding the use that States made of it: it appeared that authorities did not take into appropriate consideration the condition of vulnerability of asylum-seekers, their family situation and their personal story. This had negative consequences especially in relation to the application of the sovereignty and the humanitarian clauses. Finally, it appears that there is a great lack of exchange of information between States. In many cases the interest of asylum-seekers is completely ignored not because of the State’s will but because important information is not provided or collected”


On this regard, it is useful to underline the importance of the presence of the border services that can offer legal and social support to the “Dubliners ”.


One distinctive feature of the Italian border procedure is the presence of services run by NGOs at the more important border points.

According to article 11 sub-section 6 of Immigration Law 286/98 as modified by law 189/02 , CIR has run, as from 2001, eight border services on behalf of the Local Prefecture: at the International airports in Rome-Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa, at the ports of Venezia, Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Trapani, and at the land border of Gorizia.

[However, at the beginning of 2008 the Prefecture of Rome changed the rules for the assignment of the Fiumicino Border Service and decided that the border service has to be subject to a specific contract and then launched a call for proposals; the service has been assigned to another organisation from 1st  April 2008 till now. The same happened for the service at Bari in 2008 (as from 1st  March 2010, CIR runs again this border service). Also the border service at Malpensa Airport, run by CIR together with Milan Caritas for many years, is in 2010 run only by Milan Caritas. Furthermore,  the Authorities have decided that the border points in Trapani and Gorizia are no longer essential ].


On the basis of the law, the beneficiaries of the services are those who lodge an asylum application and foreigners who intend to stay in Italy for over three months.


The subsequent Decree of 2nd  May 2001  of the Ministry of the Interior establishes that “asylum and - in general - support to aliens who intend to ask for protection is the main objective of the border service ”. Furthermore, the most vulnerable cases, such as unaccompanied minors, women victims of violence or people who have suffered from torture and in general foreigners in need are the main categories worthy of  assistance at the borders.

In the above services, CIR and the other NGOs ensure legal and social counselling, interpreting service, search for accommodation, contact with local authorities/services, production and distribution of informative documents on specific asylum issues directed to both asylum seekers, including “Dubliners ”, and border police.

A particular Italian requirement is the legislative provision that the service must be placed “in the transit area, where possible ”.


It stands to reason that the type of assistance offered by the organization running the border service varies case by case. Where the border service receives the “Dublin case”, action taken in his/her favour will be more frequently linked to social, assistance aspects, but procedural issues as well.

Where border service deals with “Dublin cases” before their transfer [it is not the case of Italy, that is a “receiving” country (:  just consider that in 2009 the successful transfers from Italy to the other Member States have been 47 against 2,658 successful transfers from the other Member States to Italy) ]  is able to verify whether the Dublin Unit decision is correct, to check the state of health of the Dublin case, and to inform the border service of the receiving Member State in order to arrange the more adequate assistance to the arriving person.


The above is particularly important considering that the transfer of many cases with health problems, psychiatric pathologies and severe depression, has been registered. For these categories of people the removal from one State to another may cause serious practical problems and a feeling of disorientation.

As a consequence, adequate reception becomes an essential element for the “Dublin case” and for the border operator him/herself. In this regard a quick and effective exchange of information among border services is fundamental but, if not possible, given the different characteristics of each service, the respective Dublin Units should allow a close collaboration with them.


On this subject it is important to highlight that Italy  receives official notice from the Dublin Unit regarding the arrival of the “Dublin cases” at the airports, allowing the improvement of the assistance to the “Dubliners ”. 

However, sometimes the sending Member States have proceeded with transfer of Dublin cases without previous communication to the Italian Authorities, causing serious practical problems to border staff and police authorities facing emergency situations (e.g. a Dublin case in a wheelchair).


Given the above, only through direct interviews to asylum seekers at the border, it is possible to gain knowledge about their vulnerability. Sometimes the sending countries are inclined to supply incomplete information on the real health conditions of the “Dublin case” in arrival to avoid possible refusal of their prise en charge. In this case the organisation can denounce the improper application of the Dublin Regulation to the competent Dublin Unit.

CIR – Italian Council for Refugees (October 2010)

Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (CIR Onlus) - (Italy) Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati (CIR Onlus) - (Italy)

The Italian Council for Refugees is an independent,  humanitarian and non profit-making organisation, founded in 1990 under the patronage of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

CIR works with the aim of empowering and co-ordinating actions in defence of refugees and asylum seekers' rights in Italy, in particular in favour of vulnerable groups of people such as women, victims of gender violence, unaccompanied minors and victims of torture. Among its members CIR counts important humanitarian associations and organisations, the three main Italian trade unions and national and international research institutes.  CIR is a member of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), as well as of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN).

CIR has been carrying out an extensive lobbying activity  with  Parliament and the Government to pass a national comprehensive law on asylum. CIR provides social protection and legal assistance to refugees and asylum seekers at its main office in Rome and through its offices all over Italy, particularly at nevralgic entrance borders.

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