The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome | Photo: Alessandro di Meo/Archive/ANSA
The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome | Photo: Alessandro di Meo/Archive/ANSA

Italy's highest court has ruled that a migrant mother of twins must be granted humanitarian protection status. The court said the children increased her vulnerability.

Italy's highest appeals court, the Supreme Court of Cassation, has stated that granting humanitarian protection is the "key" to permanent residency in Italy for migrants with underage children.

In a judgment published on Friday (February 26), the Court of Cassation ruled in favor of a Libyan mother of twins, who were born in the northern Italian city of Brescia in January 2017 after the mother's arrival in Italy.

Children are a factor that heightens the "vulnerability" of refugees which the interior ministry and judges cannot ignore, the court said.

The interior ministry had denied protection to the mother, and a court in Brescia had also ruled that the woman "did not have specific personal and family problems."

The Court of Cassation ruled that the two children were "one of the personal and family issues that the judge should have considered."

The decision

The principle outlined by the Supreme Court of Cassation is that "the presence of underage children in Italy" proves, "on the one hand, a particular fragility of the single members of the family and of the family as a whole, and on the other a specific profile of integration of the household in the national territory."

In the future, courts of first instance and of appeal, as well as the interior ministry, will have to consider the principle.

The family's integration is "related to the inclusion of children in social contexts and in schools in Italy and, as a consequence, their natural tendency to absorb the values and concepts on which Italian society is founded," the Court of Cassation said.

Brescia court needs to re-examine case

The court in Brescia, which had first ruled on the matter, will now need to "re-evaluate" the case based on the Supreme Court of Cassation's guidelines.

"In order to recognize humanitarian protection," the high court established, "the presence of underage children – whose vulnerability, until proven otherwise, needs to be considered."

This will give "primary importance to the damage that would be created if they were repatriated to a socio-territorial context in which the minors did not have any connection." The judges of the Court of Cassation said that this would be "one of the elements that must be considered in evaluating whether a parent is vulnerable."

The interior ministry had rejected the Libyan mother's request for protection. The ministry then asked the Court of Cassation to uphold a decree issued by the tribunal in Brescia in June 2019, which had given the green light to the repatriation of the mother and her twins.

The Libyan woman, identified by her initials – V. L. – was represented by attorney Massimo Gilardoni, a member of migrants' rights group "Diritti per tutti" ("Rights for all").


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