Italy: Residence permit on humanitarian grounds due to COVID-19 situation in country of origin

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Court of Naples recently recognised (by Decree of 25 June 2020 No. 23602) an individual’s right to a residence permit on humanitarian protection grounds due to the health emergency situation and management of COVID-19 in the applicant’s country of origin.

The applicant, a Pakistani citizen, originating from a small village in Punjab, now lives in Italy. He speaks Italian and has had several regular employment contracts. He obtained a temporary residence permit as an asylum seeker. His applications for refugee status and subsidiary protection were rejected, considering the applicant's account of the risk of persecution on religious grounds or serious harm to be unreliable, and because it considered that there was not a situation of indiscriminate violence resulting from armed conflict. 

The Tribunal, however, assessed of its own motion the security situation resulting from the pandemic. The Court made a specific reference to the Alheto judgment, in which the CJEU specified that the expression 'ex nunc' (contained in Article 46 of Directive 2013/32 -APD) highlights the obligation of the court to carry out an assessment which takes into account, where appropriate, new factors which have arisen since the adoption of the decision under review. The Court of Naples observed that, according to reliable country of origin information reports, the Pakistani health system became increasingly commercial, resulting in the scarce availability of health services for the poor. In particular, public primary care services are poor, especially in rural areas, with only six COVID hospitals in the whole Punjab region. It also noted, inter alia, data indicating the significant number of positive tests and the large concentration of cases in the Punjab region.

Having examined the applicant's situation, the Court of First Instance concluded that return to his country of origin would place the applicant's right to health in a state of extreme vulnerability and at serious risk. However, it made clear that it is not specifically the risk to the applicant’s state of health that would justify granting on residence permit on humanitarian grounds. Rather, it indicated that there was a possibility that the applicant would not have access to appropriate care and may be excluded from care on the basis of social and economic reasons. As a result, the Court concluded that the applicant’s fundamental right to health would be seriously compromised in the event of his return. It added that the applicant’s lack of ties with his country of origin and well-documented integration in Italy, justified granting a residence permit on humanitarian protection grounds.

Many thanks to Sofia Bonatti, senior legal officer at ECRE, for assisting with this summary. Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

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