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United Nations: concluding observations by the Human Rights Committee on the situation in Italy

The Human Rights Committee of the United Nations, at the end of the 3364th meeting held on the 23rd March 2017 in Genevra, has published their concluding observations on the 6th Periodic Review on Italy. Their concluding observations include a series of recommendations about legislative measures.

The Committee welcomes the submission of the sixth periodic report of Italy, albeit 6 years late, and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew dialogue with the State on measures taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. 

The Committee praises Italy for the adoption of the following legislation:

(a) Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 (Regulation of Same-Sex Civil Union and Cohabitation);
(b) The National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings (2016-2021);
(c) Law No. 119 of 15 October 2013 (Gender violence and Civil Protection);
(d) The National Strategy for the Inclusion of Roma and Sinti Communities for 2012-2020.

It welcomes the ratification of: 

(a) The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, on 4 Feb 2016;
(b) The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, on 8 Oct 2015;
(c) The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, in 29 September 2015;
(d) The Optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on 20 Feb 2015;
(e) The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on 3 Apr 2013;
(f) The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, on 15 May 2009.

Finally, it commends the State party’s decision to withdraw its reservations to articles 15(1) and 19(3)of the Covenant.

However, the Committee also raises the following matters of concern, highlighting that the State party should:

- establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles.

- ensure that its legal framework provides full protection against discrimination (prohibiting both direct and indirect discrimination), addresses all grounds of discrimination and provides effective rememdies in cases of violations. This includes the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.

- review relevant legislation and consider allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, including their partner’s biological children, and ensuring the same legal protection for those children living in same-sex families as those living in heterosexual families, and provide for equal access to In Vitro Fertilization. It should also intensify its efforts to combat discrimination and hate speech and hate crimes against LGBTI persons.

- intensify its efforts to eradicate the discrimination against Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities, including the full implementation of the National Roma Inclusion Strategy. 

- guarantee unimpeded and timely access to legal abortion services in its territory, including by establishing an effective referral system for women seeking legal abortion services.

-  incorporate, without further delay, the crime of torture into the Criminal Code, in line with the Covenant and other international standards.

- prevent law enforcement and security forces from resorting to excessive force and ill-treatment. It should revise Article 582 of the Criminal Code, and ensure that allegations of ill-treatment and excessive use of force are thoroughly investigated even if the victim has not filed a complaint. It should ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with sanctions commensurate with the seriousness of the crime; and that victims are adequately compensated. 

simplify the statelessness determination procedures, reform the citizenship law, and expedite the adoption of appropriate legislation designed to reduce statelessness.

- implement Law no. 67/2014 to abrogate the crime of irregular entry and stay, refrain from practices of collective expulsion of migrants (ensuring that any expulsion is based on individual assessment). It should also ensure that immigration detention is only applied as a measure of last resort, determined strictly necessary on a case by case basis. The State party should increase the number of available places in reception centres and improve their conditions. The State party should fully implement the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of the hotspots, and provide in all first level reception centers information and legal aid about the identification and asylum procedure.

- ensure a safe age assessment procedure for unaccompanied minors and should review the guardian assignment procedure. It should ensure adequate conditions for unaccompanied minors in reception facilities, and prevent the disappearance of children, and to find those already gone missing.

- fully implement the National Action Plan against Trafficking and Serious Exploitation of Human Beings (2016-2021) by establishing clear procedures for identifying victims, conducting individual risk assessments prior to the return of trafficked persons to their country of origin, strengthening labour inspections, and establishing effective complain procedures. 

- continue its efforts of reducing overcrowding in prison

- ensure that the special regime of detention (article 41-bis of the Law on the Penitentiary System) is in line with the Covenant.

- continue its efforts to reduce the length of criminal and civil proceedings.

- review the regime regulating the interception of personal communications, hacking of digital devices and the retention of communications data.

- decriminalize blasphemy, and should also consider the complete decriminalization of defamation and libel.

- ensure that in the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act, the authorities provide reasons for any refusal to provide access to information.

The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its State parties. All States parties are obliged to submit regular reports to the Committee on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of "concluding observations”.

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