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The path of migrants towards asylum: sad considerations from the field

Claudia the day of her graduation at home, 22 July 2021.

My name is Claudia Elli and I am a recent graduate student of MA Human Rights and Multi-level Governance. Passionate about languages and cultures, I have a background in Linguistic and Cultural Mediation. Besides that, I have always been outraged by injustices of various kinds. During my bachelor’s degree, a class on legal multiculturalism made me understand I wanted to pursue a career that would fulfil my ideals. The class was on the adoption of laws concerning the social life of populations around the globe.

My passion for refugee law brought me to apply for a curricular internship at the body responsible for the recognition of international protection: the status determination Commission of Padova. I undertook the internship from April 16 to June 4, 2021. How does the so-called Territorial Commission work? Briefly, when a request for international protection is sent, the Commission receives the applicant to carry out an oral interview. During the interview, the asylum seeker is invited to tell the story that pushed him/her to leave his/her country of origin.

Demonstrators in Australia, 2014. The Sydney Morning Herald.

First of all, I was introduced to the mechanisms and legislation of asylum. Even though I had some knowledge from a university course, I had the possibility to refresh the law, to understand how to apply it, and to observe its practical implications. My tasks included helping the secretaries to create a new file, i.e. when the Commission receives a request, it has to open a new folder in which all documents and data of the seeker are inserted. Another task was convocating interpreters, who are fundamental subjects in the process, as they are vehicles for the comprehension of the other two parties, namely the asylum seeker and the officer. Undoubtedly, one of the most remarkable opportunities was to attend interviews: I could understand the process dynamics, observe different officers’ approaches, and, most importantly, meet applicants and listen to their personal stories. After the interviews, officers were very enthusiastic to involve me in the analysis of the case. Indeed, I was asked to do COI research, i.e. the study on the applicants’ country-of-origin, and I also supported officers to write the proposal for the purpose of the final decision. This is the document that suggests inclusion or exclusion.

Demonstrators in UK, 2020. Andy Rain/EPA.

Overall, I enjoyed the internship a lot: I applied knowledge of refugee law, improved my skills, and learnt new operational aspects of migration and asylum. Beyond the satisfaction and enrichment, the internship made me face the arduous path migrants undertake once they have applied for international protection. Indeed, I observed many paradoxes within the asylum process and obstacles to the recognition itself, as most of the times migrants try this path being it the only and fastest way to reach regularity. This sad reality made me acknowledge the inconsistency of the asylum system in Italy, and realize that those who arrive in the country do not have many options but to confront this institute. In the end, the challenges I observed on the ground and the whole internship strengthened my ambition in playing a role in enhancing both the legal and the living conditions of migrants.

Written by Claudia Elli

Edited by Giulia Rosina


Claudia is a recent graduate of MA Human Rights and Multi-level Governance. Her thesis focused on “Migration policies in Italy: an analysis of the status determination commissions' work, 2017-2020”. She is passionate about refugee law and she is eager to empower those people who are left behind in marginalization. Follow Claudia on Linkedin , on Instagram @cla_elli , and on Facebook @Claudia Elli.


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