The "Bossi-Fini" law (Law 189/2002) considerably modified previous legislation on refugees and asylum. As a result, the "Commissione centrale per il riconoscimento dello 'status di rifugiato'"(Central Commission for the Recognition of Refugee Status) was replaced by the "Commissione nazionale per il diritto di asilo" (National Commission for the Right of Asylum) which has a decentralized structure made up of local commissions all over Italy (located in Gorizia, Milan, Rome, Foggia, Siracusa, Crotone, Trapani, Bari, Caserta, Turin, Bologna) which handle the requests of refugees residing within the boundaries of their territories. These local commissions are obliged by law to hear the applicant within 30 days from submission of the request and to come to a decision within the following three days.
Controlling the inflow of asylum seekers
Over the last 10 years, there has been a discontinuous trend concerning asylum applications. This development has to be regarded against the background of arrivals by sea on Italian shores, because the majority of the immigrants coming to Italy this way are in fact refugees and asylum seekers (cf. Figure 3).
In 2008, for example, 13% of all immigrants coming to Italy arrived by sea. Of these 75% applied for asylum; 50% of them were finally granted some form of protection.
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the number of European asylum seekers is shrinking whereas the number of people who originate from African countries and apply for asylum is increasing (cf. Table 5).
Requests for protection and main countries of origin of asylum seekers, 1990-2011
|Requests for protection||Top three countries of origin of requests|
|1990||4,573||1) Albania, 2) Romania, 3) Ethiopia|
|1991||28,400||1) Albania, 2) Romania, 3) Somalia|
|1992||2,970||1) Romania, 2) Somalia, 3) Eritrea|
|1993||1,736||1) Romania, 2) Ethiopia, 3) former Yugoslavia|
|1994||2,259||1) Romania, 2) Ethiopia, 3) Sudan|
|1995||2,039||1) Romania, 2) Iraq, 3) Sudan|
|1996||844||1) Iraq, 2) Ethiopia, 3) Zaire|
|1997||2,595||1) Albania, 2) Iraq, 3) Turkey|
|1998||18,496||1) former Yugoslavia, 2) Iraq, 3) Turkey|
|1999||37,318||1) former Yugoslavia, 2) Iraq, 3) Turkey|
|2000||24,296||1) Iraq, 2) Turkey, 3) former Yugoslavia|
|2001||21,575||1) Iraq, 2) Turkey, 3) former Yugoslavia|
|2002||18,754||1) Iraq, 2) former Yugoslavia, 3) Liberia|
|2003||15,274||1) Somalia, 2) Liberia, 3) Eritrea|
|2004||10,869||1) former Yugoslavia, 2) Romania, 3) Nigeria|
|2005||10,704||1) former Yugoslavia, 2) Eritrea, 3) Romania|
|2006||10,026||1) Eritrea, 2) former Yugoslavia, 3) Nigeria|
|2007||13,310||1) Eritrea, 2) Ivory Coast, 3) Nigeria|
|2008||13,310||1) Nigeria, 2) Somalia, 3) Eritrea|
|2009||19,090||1) Nigeria, 2) Somalia, 3) Pakistan|
|2010||12,121||1) former Yugoslavia, 2) Nigeria, 3) Pakistan|
|2011||37,350||1) Nigeria, 2) Tunisia, 3) Ghana|
Source: elaboration by the author based on data provided by the Ministry of the Interior
In 2011, Italian authorities received 37,350 applications for asylum, three out of four asylum seekers came from an African country, especially Nigeria (7,030 requests), Tunisia (4,805), Ghana (3,402) and Mali (2,607). The same year, the National Commission for the Right of Asylum gave a positive answer to 40% of the requests examined, while protection was denied in 44% of all examined cases (of the remaining 16% of asylum applications 9% could not be traced and 7% had another outcome