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© Consiglio d'Europa

European Committee of Social Rights: Italian legislation of corporal punishment against children is compatible with the European Social Charter

With the decision adopted on 5 December 2014, published on 15 April 2015, in the case of APPROACH v. Italy (application no. 94/2013) the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe concluded that Italy has not violated the right of mothers and children to social and economic protection (Article 17 of the European Social Charter).

The complaint submitted to the Committee by the Association for the Protection of All Children (APPROACH) called to examine the compatibility of Italian legislation with the European Social Charter prohibition of all corporal punishment of children in the family and in all forms of non-institutional child care.

According to the applicants’ claim, there is no explicit and effective prohibition of all corporal punishment in Italy. In particular, Article 571 of the Criminal Code (abuse of correctional measures or discipline) implies the right of correction that may involve a certain degree of violence and only consider offence if the facts result physical or mental injury. In 1996 Supreme Court of Cassation Judgment (Judgement No. 4909) ruled clearly that the use of violence for educational purposes can no longer be considered lawful, however APPROACH argues that by itself it cannot be sufficient to prohibit all corporal punishment.

The Committee, while noted that in the Italian legislation there is no clear and comprehensible prohibition on all forms of corporal punishment, considered that the above mentioned Supreme Court of Cassation Judgment interpretation has been followed in subsequent cases. For these reasons concluded that there was no violation of Article 17 of the Charter.

The Committee in considering a similar complaint (OMCT v. Italy application no. 19/2003), had also not found violation (Article 17 of the Charter).

The duty of the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) of the Council of Europe is to examine the conformity of Member States -both in law and in practice- with the provisions of the European Social Charter, its Protocols and the Revised European Social Charter (1996). Moreover, it receives collective complaints and examines periodic reports submitted by Member States as well.