Law on unaccompanied foreign minors

In force from 6 May 2017

Law No. 47 of 7 April 2017 has been published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (Official Gazette) under the title "Disposizioni in materia di misure di protezione dei minori non accompagnati" ("Provisions concerning protection measures for unaccompanied minors").

Read the text in the Gazzetta Ufficiale

Hereafter the main aspects of the law:

- Identification and ascertainment of the minor's age. The law regulates modalities and procedures for ascertaining the minor's age and identity, thus assuring uniformity at national level, overcoming the various territorial procedures. The attribution of age shall be notified both to the minor and to the legal guardian so as to guarantee the possibility to lodge a claim. Moreover, the law provides for greater assistance as it envisages the presence of cultural mediators throughout the whole procedure.

- Integrated reception system. The law provides for a greater integration between the initial reception centres devoted exclusively to minors - in which minors can reside for no more than 30 days - and the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Unaccompanied Minors (SPRAR) with the structures present throughout the national territory, which the law extends to unaccompanied foreign minors.

- National informative system and Social record. The law provides for a Sistema informativo minori non accompagnati (SIM) (Informative System for Unaccompanied Minors) established by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, and a "Cartella sociale" ("Social record") filled in by the qualified personnel interviewing the minor during the initial reception phase. The record shall include all the elements useful for establishing the long-term solution for the minor, in his/her higher interest.

- Family investigations and Assisted voluntary returns. The competence passes from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies to the Ministry of Interior that, in agreement with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will have the right to carry out family investigations in the minor's higher interest. Moreover, the law regulates the modalities for communicating the outcomes of the investigations both to the minor and to the legal guardian. As regards Assisted voluntary returns, the competence passes from an administrative body, the General Directorate for Immigration and Integration Policies of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, to the Juvenile Court, the body appointed by constitution to establish the minor's interest.

- Residence permits. The law refers exclusively to two typologies of residence permits, that is for minors and for family reasons, should the unaccompanied minor be placed under guardianship or foster care. The minor shall have the right to apply for a residence permit directly to the cognizant Questura, also lacking the appointment of a legal guardian.

- Voluntary legal guardians and Family foster care. Within three months from the entering into force of the law, all Juvenile Courts must have a list of "voluntary legal guardians" willing to take on the guardianship also of unaccompanied foreign minors so as to provide all minors with an adult figure of reference adequately trained. Moreover, the law promotes the development of family foster care as priority reception path over structures.

- Education and health protection. The law provides for a greater protection of the right to education and health, with measures that simplify registration to the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (National Health System), even before the appointment of a legal guardian. It also provides for the entering into specific agreements for apprenticeship, and the possibility to acquire final educational qualifications, even when, upon coming of age, not in possession of a residence permit.

- Administrative continuation up to 21 years old. The law reasserts the possibility to exercise the right of the so-called "prosieguo amministrativo" ("administrative continuation") aimed at supporting youngsters after their coming of age up to 21 years old should there be the need for a longer integration path in Italy.

Moreover, the law provides for the "right to be heard" also for unaccompanied minors involved in administrative and judicial proceedings, and the right to legal assistance, benefitting from legal aid at the State's expense on the basis of the laws in force. Besides, protective associations can appeal in administrative jurisdiction to annul public administration proceedings considered detrimental to unaccompanied minors' rights and intervene in judgments in which they are involved.

Lastly, the law pays particular attention to minors that are victims of trade. As regards international cooperation, Italy undertakes to foster among Countries an integrated approach for minors' safeguard and protection.

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