Italy and Kafalah: Reinventing Traditional Perspectives to Accommodate Diversity?

by Anna Marotta 

In September 2013, the Italian Court of Cassation introduced a new principle: in certain well-defined circumstances, local authorities cannot refuse to issue entry visas, for purposes of family reunification, to foreign minors taken under kafalah by Italian citizens residing in Italy. The Court was asked to determine whether it was possible to place Italian and foreign citizens on the same level in matters of kafalah and family reunification. Previously, foreign minors given under kafalah to Italian citizens by means of a measure granted by a foreign court were not entitled to entry visas for family reunification. The Court stressed that interpreting family reunification rules in a manner that denied Italian citizens the right to reunification with the child given to them under kafalah was not compatible with Italian constitutional principles and international conventions. This awareness guided the judge’s reasoning and paved the way to acceptance of this debated institution. 

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