On February 24, 2021, the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation (Corte Suprema di Cassazione) established in Ordinance 5022/2021 that the assessment that the trial judge carries out for the purpose of granting humanitarian protection should consider not only armed conflict scenarios but also situations of social, environmental or climate degradation, and situations in which natural resources are subjected to unsustainable exploitation in the country of origin. The Court clarified that humanitarian protection must be granted when, according to the assessment, the situation in the country of origin does not allow for a minimum essential limit of guarantee for the right to life of the individual.
The ordinance originates from the rejection by the Ancona Territorial Commission for the International Protection Recognition of an individual request for international or humanitarian protection. The applicant is a citizen of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The applicant appealed the rejection before the Tribunale di Ancona. Following a second negative decision, he appealed it before the Supreme Court of Cassation. In delivering its ordinance, the Court of Cassation specifically referred to the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in the Teitiota case.
A key passage from the ruling (Pp.8-9): “For the purpose of recognizing, or denying, humanitarian protection [...], the concept of ‘ineradicable core constituting the foundation of personal dignity’ identified by the jurisprudence of this Court [...] is the minimum essential limit below which the right to life and the right to a dignified existence of an individual are not guaranteed. That limit must be appreciated by the trial judge not only with specific reference to the existence of a situation of armed conflict, but in relation to any context that is, in practice, able to put the fundamental rights to life, liberty and self-determination of the individual at risk of zeroing or reduction below the aforementioned minimum threshold, therein specifically including – if their existence in a given geographical area is concretely established – situations of environmental disaster, [...] climate change, and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources”.