Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Italy *
1.The Committee considered the sixth periodic report of Italy (CCPR/C/ITA/6 and Corr.1) at its 3345th and 3346th meetings (see CCPR/C/SR.3345 and 3346), held on 9 and 10 March 2017. At its 3364th meeting, held on 23 March 2017, it adopted the present concluding observations.
2.The Committee welcomes the submission of the sixth periodic report of Italy, albeit six years late, and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high-level delegation on the measures taken during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/ITA/Q/6/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/ITA/Q/6), which were supplemented by the oral and written responses provided by the delegation.
3.The Committee welcomes the legislative, institutional and policy measures taken by the State party, including the adoption of:
(a)Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016 (regulating same-sex civil unions and cohabitation);
(b)The national action plan against trafficking in and serious exploitation of human beings (2016-2021);
(c)Law No. 119 of 15 October 2013 (on gender-based violence and civil protection);
(d)The national strategy for the inclusion of the Roma and Sinti communities (2012-2020).
4.The Committee also welcomes the ratification of the following international instruments by the State party:
(a)The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, on 4 February 2016;
(b)The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, on 8 October 2015;
(c)The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, on 29 September 2015;
(d)The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on 20 February 2015;
(e)The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on 3 April 2013;
(f)The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, on 15 May 2009.
5.The Committee also welcomes the State party’s decision to withdraw its reservations to articles 9 (5), 12 (4) and 14 (5) of the Covenant.
C.Principal matters of concern and recommendations
National human rights institution
6.While noting that a number of specific bodies dedicated to the promotion of human rights are in operation and the repeated commitment made by the State party to establish a national human rights institution, the Committee regrets that no such institution has yet been established (art. 2).
7. The State party should expeditiously establish a national human rights institution in compliance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles).
8.The Committee is concerned that article 3 of the Constitution does not contain a comprehensive list of prohibited grounds of discrimination and that existing anti-discrimination legislation addresses only some grounds of discrimination, in limited spheres (arts. 2 and 26).
9. The State party should take all measures necessary, including the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, to ensure that its legal framework: (a) provides full and effective protection against discrimination in all spheres, including in the private sphere, and prohibits direct and indirect discrimination; (b) comprehensively addresses all grounds of discrimination, including colour, national origin, citizenship, birth, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender identity and any other status; and (c) provides for effective remedies in cases of violations, including in cases of multiple and intersectional discrimination.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity
10.While welcoming the adoption of Law No. 76 of 20 May 2016, the Committee remains concerned that the law does not provide same-sex couples the right to adopt children and does not afford full legal protection to children living in same-sex families. It is also concerned about the continued denial of access to in vitro fertilization under Law No. 400/2004 and about the prevalence of discrimination and hate speech against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons (arts. 2, 23-24 and 26).
11. The State party should review relevant legislation and consider allowing same-sex couples to adopt children, including the biological children of one of the partners in the couple, and ensuring the same legal protection for children living in same-sex families as for those living in heterosexual families. The State party should provide for equal access to in vitro fertilization. It should also intensify its efforts to combat discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
Hate speech and racial discrimination
12.The Committee is concerned about reports of persistent stigmatization, stereotyping, and racist discourse against Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities and non-citizens, exacerbated by the media and public officials at the local level. It is also concerned that the aggravating circumstances in Law No. 205/1993 (Mancino Law) on hate crimes are applied only when a racist motive appears to be the sole motivation but not when there are mixed motives (arts. 2 and 26).
13. The State party should: (a) strengthen its efforts to eradicate stigmatization, stereotyping and racist discourse against Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities and non-citizens, including by conducting awareness-raising campaigns to promote tolerance and respect for diversity; (b) review Law No. 205/1993 with a view to giving effect to aggravating circumstances to all hate crimes; and (c) ensure that all cases of racially motivated violence are systematically investigated, that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished and that appropriate compensation is awarded to the victims.
Discrimination against Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities
14.The Committee remains concerned at the persistent discrimination and segregation faced by Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities, in particular:
(a)The absence of legal remedies provided to Roma, Sinti and Camminanti individuals whose rights were violated by the implementation of a nomad emergency decree from May 2008 to November 2011;
(b)The continuing practice of forcibly evicting members of the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities throughout the State party;
(c)The imposition of restrictive security measures, such as executive decision No. 4377 of 19 December 2015 of the Municipality of Rome, on segregated Roma-only settlements;
(d)The construction by municipal authorities of new segregated Roma-only camps (arts. 2, 12, 17 and 26).
15. The State party should intensify its efforts to eradicate the persistent discrimination and segregation against the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities, including through the full implementation of the national Roma inclusion strategy. The State party should also:
(a) Provide effective remedies and reparations to those who have suffered human rights violations as a result of the implementation of the nomad emergency decree, taking into account the Council of State ’ s judgment No. 6050 of 16 November 2011;
(b) Take all feasible measures to avoid the forced eviction of members of the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities and, in case of evictions, ensure that the affected communities enjoy legal protections and are provided with adequate alternative housing;
(c) Take the measures necessary to repeal all security measures imposed on segregated Roma-only settlements, including executive decision No. 4377 of 19 December 2015 of the Municipality of Rome, that severely restrict the rights to privacy and to movement of the residents and their visitors;
(d) Halt any plans that are likely to result in new segregated camps or segregated housing areas;
(e) Expedite consideration of pending legislation seeking to recognize the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti communities as a national minority.
Voluntary termination of pregnancy
16.The Committee is concerned about reported difficulties in accessing legal abortions owing to the high number of physicians who refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience and the distribution of such physicians across the country. It is also concerned that this results in a significant number of clandestine abortions being carried out (arts. 6, 17 and 24).
17. The State party should take the measures necessary to guarantee unimpeded and timely access to legal abortion services in its territory, including by establishing an effective referral system for women seeking such services.
18.The Committee is concerned that the crime of torture has not been incorporated in the Criminal Code (art. 7).
19. The State party should incorporate, without further delay, the crime of torture in the Criminal Code, in line with the Covenant and other international standards.
Use of excessive force and ill-treatment
20.The Committee is concerned about reports of frequent use of excessive force by police and other law enforcement officials, particularly in the context of migrant identification procedures at certain “hotspots”. It is also concerned about the prevalence of impunity for police and law enforcement officials involved in excessive use of force and about article 582 of the Criminal Code, which exacerbates the problem by requiring the filing of a complaint by the victim (art. 7).
21. The State party should take all measures necessary to prevent law enforcement and security forces from resorting to excessive use of force and ill-treatment, including by improving and increasing the amount of training available to law enforcement officers, introducing a code of conduct for such officers and requiring them to wear identification tags. 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.
Statelessness and citizenship
22.The Committee is concerned that most stateless persons, mainly Roma and third-country nationals, remain stateless owing to the complicated statelessness determination procedures, which put children at a high risk of inheriting the stateless status of their parents, despite the legislative guarantee of Italian citizenship to those children born in Italy. It is also concerned about the slow progress in adopting legislation to address these issues (arts. 2 and 24).
23. The State party should take the measures necessary to simplify the statelessness determination procedures, reform the citizenship law and expedite the adoption of appropriate legislation designed to reduce statelessness.
Migrants, asylum seekers and refugees
24.While appreciating the great efforts made by the State party to receive and host exceptional numbers of persons fleeing armed conflict or persecution, the Committee is concerned at:
(a)The non-implementation of Law No. 67/2014, which authorizes the executive branch to suspend the offence of irregular entry and stay in Italy;
(b)Continued reports of the collective expulsion of migrants, including the deportation of 48 Sudanese migrants in August 2016, which was reportedly facilitated by a bilateral agreement on migration;
(c)The prolonged detention at hotspots beyond the legally prescribed period of 72 hours;
(d)The insufficient number of places in first- and second-level reception centres and the substandard living conditions in several reception centres;
(e)The lack of effective safeguards against erroneous classification of asylum seekers as economic migrants, including insufficient provision of information on and legal assistance for the pre-identification and identification procedures and asylum application procedure at hotspots and reception centres (arts. 7 and 9-10).
25. The State party should:
(a) Implement Law No. 67/2014 with a view to abrogating the crime of irregular entry and stay;
(b) Refrain from carrying out the collective expulsion of migrants, ensure that all expulsion orders are based on an individual assessment of each migrant ’ s situation, taking into account the person ’ s special protection needs, ensure that bilateral and multilateral agreements are applied in such a way as to guarantee full respect of Covenant rights and strict compliance with the principle of non- refoulement , and suspend any agreement that does not include effective human rights protections;
(c) Ensure that immigration detention is only applied for the shortest period possible and as a measure of last resort, after it has been determined, on a case -by- case basis, to be strictly necessary, proportionate, lawful and non-arbitrary;
(d) Strengthen its efforts to increase the number of available places in reception centres and take all measures necessary to improve, without delay, the conditions therein;
(e) Fully implement the standard operating procedures at hotspots and provide in all first-level reception cent re s information and legal aid, where necessary, in relation to the pre-identification and identification procedures and the asylum procedure.
26.While noting the difficult challenge arising from the increasing number of unaccompanied minors arriving in Italy, the Committee is concerned at the insufficient safeguards for such children, in particular relating to the inadequate age determination procedure, delays in the appointment of guardians and conditions in first-level reception centres. It is particularly concerned at the increasing number of children going missing from reception centres, which places them at risk of labour and sexual exploitation (arts. 7, 9 and 24).
27. The State party should:
(a) Ensure that the age assessment procedure is based on safe and scientifically sound methods, taking into account the children ’ s mental well-being;
(b) Review the guardian assignment procedure to ensure that each unaccompanied minor is provided with a legal guardian in a timely manner;
(c) Ensure adequate conditions for unaccompanied minors in reception facilities, including their segregation from adults;
(d) Take the measures necessary to prevent the disappearance of children and to find the whereabouts of those already missing.
Trafficking in human beings and labour exploitation
28.The Committee is concerned at reports of a rise in trafficking in human beings and the exploitation of migrants, particularly in the context of the recent migration flow. It is particularly concerned at:
(a)The lack of clear procedures for screening victims of trafficking in reception facilities;
(b)Reports of forced removals of possible victims of human trafficking and the lack of information provided to them about their legal options and social services;
(c)The labour exploitation faced by migrant workers, particularly those in irregular situations and in the agricultural sector, the systematic failure to comply with rules of occupational safety, minimum living conditions and the lack of effective labour inspections;
(d)The absence of clear and effective procedures allowing migrant workers to complain about abusive working conditions, including in relation to outstanding pay (arts. 8 and 24).
29. The State party should take the measures necessary to implement fully the national action plan against trafficking in and serious exploitation of human beings (2016-2021). It should also:
(a) Establish clear procedures for identifying victims of human trafficking and continue to provide the training needed by immigration police officers and staff working in all reception facilities;
(b) Conduct individual risk assessments before trafficked persons return to their country of origin;
(c) Strengthen labour inspections in those sectors where most migrants are working, including the agricultural sector, and release labour inspectors from the responsibility of enforcing immigration law;
(d) Establish effective complaint procedures to allow migrant workers to lodge complaints against their employers without fear of reprisals and review Legislative Decree No. 109 ( Rosarno Law) to that end.
30.While noting the progress made to address overcrowding in prisons, the Committee remains concerned about that problem. It is particularly concerned about the overrepresentation of foreigners in prisons owing to reported discrimination in terms of sentencing and the limited application of alternatives to detention for foreigners and about the substandard conditions of detention, including in immigration detention centres, in relation to food, health care and recreational facilities (arts. 2, 9, 14 and 26).
31. The State party should continue its efforts to reduce overcrowding in prisons. It should also address the overrepresentation of foreigners in prisons, including by conducting a study on discrimination against foreigners in criminal justice proceedings and the development of suitable and realistic alternatives to detention for foreign detainees. Furthermore, it should take measures to improve conditions of detention, including in terms of access to health-care services, the provision of sufficient and adequate food, taking into consideration the health condition and dietary needs of detainees, and recreational facilities.
Special detention regime under article 41 bis of the law on the penitentiary system
32.The Committee is concerned about the special detention regime provided for by article 41 bis of the law on the penitentiary system, which allows for a special detention regime of up to four years to be applied, with the possibility of extending that regime for an additional period of two years. It is concerned about the alleged automatic extension of detention in such cases; the frequent rejection of appeal requests; the lack of judicial review of the orders imposing or extending this form of detention and the severe restrictions imposed on prisoners in terms of socialization with other inmates (arts. 2, 9, 14 and 26).
33. The State party should ensure that the special detention regime is in line with the Covenant, including by expediting the judicial review of orders imposing and extending the regime. It should also take the measures necessary to improve the conditions of detention under the regime, including by facilitating communication among prisoners.
Right to a fair trial
34.The Committee remains concerned about the excessive length of court proceedings and the limited access to free legal aid owing to restrictive qualifying criteria and a lack of information on legal aid options (art. 14).
35. The State party should continue its efforts to reduce the length of criminal and civil proceedings. It should also take the measures necessary to improve access to legal aid, including by expanding legal aid criteria and making information on such aid available to the public, in criminal and other types of proceedings, when the interests of justice so require.
Right to online and digital privacy
36.The Committee is concerned about reports that intelligence agencies are intercepting personal communications and employing hacking techniques without explicit statutory authorization or clearly defined safeguards from abuse. It is also concerned that the anti-terrorism decree and Law No. 21/2016 compel telecommunications service providers to retain data beyond the period allowed by article 132 of the personal data protection code, and that the authorities can access such data without authorization from a judicial authority. It is further concerned about allegations that companies based in the State party have been providing online surveillance equipment to Governments with a record of serious human rights violations and about the absence of legal safeguards or oversight mechanisms regarding the export of such equipment (art. 17).
37.The State party should review the regime regulating the interception of personal communications, the hacking of digital devices and the retention of communications data with a view to ensuring: (a) that such activities conform with its obligations under article 17, including the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity; (b) that robust, independent oversight systems are in place regarding surveillance, interception and hacking, including by ensuring that the judiciary is involved in the authorization of such measures, in all cases, and by affording persons affected with effective remedies in cases of abuse, including, where possible, an ex post notification that they were placed under surveillance or that their data was hacked; and (c) that measures are taken to ensure that all corporations under its jurisdiction, in particular technology corporations, respect human rights standards when engaging in operations abroad.
Criminalization of defamation
38.The Committee is concerned that some forms of expression, including defamation, libel and blasphemy, remain criminal offences and can be punished with imprisonment and that article 13 of the press law and article 595 of the Criminal Code impose harsher punishments for defaming public officials, including the Head of State. It is also concerned about the high number of journalists reportedly convicted of libel (art. 19).
39. The State party should decriminalize blasphemy. It should also consider the complete decriminalization of defamation and libel and, in any case, it should restrict the application of criminal law to the most serious of cases. It should also revise its legislation, including article 13 of the press law and article 595 of the Criminal Code, with a view to bringing it into conformity with its obligations under the Covenant, taking into account the Committee ’ s general comment No. 34 (2011) on the freedoms of opinion and expression. Furthermore, it should ensure that such lawsuits are not used as tools to curtail freedom of expression beyond the narrow restrictions permitted by article 19 of the Covenant.
Freedom of information
40.While noting the adoption in 2016 of the freedom of information act, the Committee is concerned about reports that the act lacks clear sanctions for authorities that refuse to answer a request without proper justification and that it is possible to challenge the non-disclosure decisions only through judicial proceedings (art. 19).
41. The State party should closely monitor the implementation of the freedom of information act. It should, in particular, ensure that the authorities provide reasons for any refusal to provide access to information and put in place effective arrangements for legal recourse involving a review of any refusal to provide access to information and of any failure to respond to a request for such access.
D.Dissemination and follow-up
42.The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant and its two Optional Protocols, its sixth periodic report, the written replies to the Committee’s list of issues and the present concluding observations with a view to raising awareness of the rights enshrined in the Covenant among the judicial, legislative and administrative authorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, and the general public. The State party should ensure that the report and the present concluding observations are translated into the official language of the State party.
43.In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party is requested to provide, within one year of the adoption of the present concluding observations, information on the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee in paragraphs 7 (national human rights institution), 25 (migrants, asylum seekers and refugees) and 27 (unaccompanied minors) above.
44.The Committee requests the State party to submit its next periodic report by 29 March 2022 and to include in that report specific up-to-date information on the implementation of the recommendations made in the present concluding observations and of the Covenant as a whole. The Committee also requests the State party, in preparing the report, to broadly consult civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 68/268, the word limit for the report is 21,200 words. Alternatively, the Committee invites the State party to agree, by 29 March 2018, to use its simplified reporting procedure, whereby the Committee transmits a list of issues to the State party prior to the submission of its report. The State party’s response to the list will constitute its next periodic report to be submitted under article 40 of the Covenant.