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Recognition of international protection applications

The Territorial Commissions for Recognition of International Protection are tasked with assessing international protection needs.

Applicants for international protection have the right to be heard by a Commission. Applicants with special needs, including children, the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women and victims of violence, are guaranteed a priority review and the possibility of assistance during the interview.

During the hearing, applicants have the right to express themselves in their own language and, if need be, to be assisted by a lawyer — at their own expense. In the case of minors, the interview takes place in the presence of a parent or other legal guardian.

If the application for international protection is clearly well-founded, or where the applicant is unable to attend an interview for duly certified health reasons, the Commission may adopt a positive decision even without the hearing taking place. Once fixed, a hearing may only be postponed for serious reasons. If the person summoned does not appear without a justifiable reason, the Commission will take a decision based on an examination of the available documentation.

The Commission may grant refugee status, or subordinately, subsidiary protection.

Prior to Decree-Law No. 113/2018, in the absence of the necessary conditions to grant international protection and in the presence of serious humanitarian reasons, the Territorial Commission could grant humanitarian protection.

The new decree-law repealed the rule that allowed the issuing of a residence permit for humanitarian reasons. Following its entry into force, within the asylum procedure, in place of a residence permit for humanitarian reasons, a residence permit for "special protection" may be issued, but only in cases of no-refoulement, i.e. when the Territorial Committee considers that, in the event of deportation, there is a risk of persecution or torture as referred to in Art. 19 of Legislative Decree 286/98. This residence permit is valid for one year, is renewable, allows the person to work, but is not convertible into a work permit.

It is possible to appeal against the Territorial Commission's decision at an Ordinary Court within thirty days from the date of being notified of the decision, reduced to fifteen in the case of people being held at Identification and Deportation Centres (CIE).

It is also possible to appeal against the ruling of the Ordinary Court by protesting to the Court of Appeal, and against the latter's decision to the Court of Cassation.

The filing of the appeal automatically suspends the effectiveness of the decision and the negative ruling with the exception of applications submitted by applicants held at CIEs, applications declared inadmissible or rejected as manifestly unfounded or, lastly, in the case of applications eligible for accelerated procedures pursuant to Art. 28-bis, paragraph 2(c) of Leg. Dec. 25/2008. In these latter cases, the applicant must submit a specific request for a stay of execution. Applicants without a means of subsistence are entitled to legal aid.