Italian law defines the following groups as vulnerable:
- Minors (people under the age of 18)
- Unaccompanied minors
- Pregnant women
- Single parents with children under the age of 18
- Victims of trafficking
- Disabled or elderly people
- People affected by serious illness or mental disorders
- People who can prove they have experienced torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence
- Victims of genital mutilation
Unfortunately, Italian law does not provide a process for identifying vulnerable people, nor for how to offer them specialized treatment.
The identification of torture victims and/or victims of extreme violence can happen at any stage of the asylum procedure.
The identification process could be performed by lawyers, authorities, professional staff working in reception centers, and/or specialized organizations.
In April 2017, Italy adopted a new law, called the "Zampa law," that strengthens protections for asylum-seekers under 18.
It creates a procedure for what Italian authorities must do when they come into contact with children who are in Italy without their parents.
The authorities have the duty to immediately inform:
- The local social services
- The state attorney to the Juvenile Court
- The Juvenile Court
- The Ministry of Employment and Social Policies
The authorities also have to immediately start an investigation into whether the unaccompanied child has family members in other European countries who they might be eligible to join.
Tha Zampa law provides the following for people under 18:
People under 18 have right to be accepted into specific accommodation for minors, and to be treated as a minor, until there is evidence that they are actually older than 18.
The state attorney to the Juvenile Court is the only authority that can medically examine an unaccompanied child to decide their real age. The child and their lawyer can challenge the age determination in Juvenile Court. (Please see text below with the asterix *)
A professional skilled in working with vulnerable people must conduct the Territorial Commission interview of anyone under 18, and the child's parents or guardian should be present.
No one under the age of 18 can be treated as an irregular migrant.
An unaccompanied child who did not ask for asylum has the right to a residence permit for a minor that can be converted at their 18th birthday.
* Please note that according to the new legislation of October 2023, in the case of consistent and continuous flows of people arriving to Italy, if you tell the authorities you are under 18 but you do not have any documents proving your age and authorities doubt that you are underage, police may proceed with checks like body measurements and radiography, even before the judge’s authorization.
If your age assessment is wrong, you can appeal to the Juvenile Court ('Tribunale per i Minorenni' in Italian) with the help of a lawyer within 5 days from the day you got the assessment notified.
Survivors of torture
During your asylum interview, if the interviewing officer suspects that you are a torture survivor, he or she may refer you to a specialized service and suspend the interview.
Victims of trafficking
While authorities are reviewing your case, if they come to believe you are a victim of trafficking, they may suspend the review process. The authorities reviewing your case will inform the questura, the prosecutor’s office, and/or humanitarian organizations that provide assistance to victims of human trafficking.
If you are a victim of human trafficking, you can get access to special programs for your protection and integration. You can also get help with leaving your smugglers.